[fey-ling] /ˈfeɪ lɪŋ/
an act or instance of failing; failure:
"His failing is due to general incompetence."
a defect or fault; shortcoming; weakness:
"His lack of knowledge is a grave failing."
in the absence or default of:
"Failing payment, we shall sue."
1250–1300; Middle English; see fail, -ing1
Related forms
failingly, adverb
failingness, noun
2. See fault.


[feyl] /feɪl/
verb (used without object)
to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved:
"The experiment failed because of poor planning."
to receive less than the passing grade or mark in an examination, class, or course of study:
"He failed in history."
to be or become deficient or lacking; be insufficient or absent; fall short:
"Our supplies failed."
to dwindle, pass, or die away:
"The flowers failed for lack of rain."
to lose strength or vigor; become weak:
"His health failed after the operation."
to become unable to meet or pay debts or business obligations; become insolvent or bankrupt.
(of a building member, structure, machine part, etc.) to break, bend, crush, or be otherwise destroyed or made useless because of an excessive load.
to stop functioning or operating:
"The electricity failed during the storm."
  1. to make an embarrassing or humorous mistake, be in a humiliating situation, etc., and be subject to ridicule:
    Showed up late to the wedding? You fail!
  2. to be embarrassingly incompetent, stupid, etc.:
    She fails at life. I just failed at walking and fell on my face.
  3. to be bad or of inferior quality:
    The play is terrible—even the music fails.
verb (used with object)
to be unsuccessful in the performance or completion of:
"He failed to do his duty."
(of some expected or usual resource) to prove of no use or help to:
"His friends failed him. Words failed her."
to receive less than a passing grade or mark in:
"He failed history."
to declare (a person) unsuccessful in a test, course of study, etc.; give less than a passing grade to:
"The professor failed him in history."
  1. an embarrassing or humorous mistake, humiliating situation, etc., that is subject to ridicule and given an exaggerated importance:
    Their app update is a massive fail.
  2. the condition or quality resulting from having failed in this way:
    His online post is full of fail.
  3. a person who fails in this way.
Stock Exchange.
  1. a stockbroker's inability to deliver or receive security within the required time after sale or purchase.
  2. such an undelivered security.
Obsolete. failure as to performance, occurrence, etc.
  1. (used to mock an embarrassing or humorous mistake, humiliating situation, etc., giving it an exaggerated importance):
    A tattoo that misspells your name? Fail!
  2. (used to indicate that something is bad or of inferior quality)
unsuccessful; failed:
"a totally fail policy."
  1. of or noting an embarrassing or humorous mistake, humiliating situation, etc.:
    the top 100 funniest fail photos on the Internet.
  2. embarrassingly incompetent, stupid, etc:
    Why am I so fail?
  3. very bad or of inferior quality.
without fail, with certainty; positively:
"I will visit you tomorrow without fail."
1175–1225; Middle English failen < Anglo-French, Old French faillir < Vulgar Latin *fallīre, for Latin fallere to disappoint, deceive
Related forms
unfailed, adjective
Example Sentences for failing
He tried to corner the market in a certain grain, and after failing, went a little crazy.
One of the college's significant changes has been catching failing students early in the process.
In other punishments, nine students will receive a failing grade in the course, and one will receive a failing grade on the exam.
These students are at risk-at risk of failing, of dropping out, and of losing opportunity.
The big problem here is failing to secure bookcases to a wall when they are more than four feet tall.
The cost to you of failing to negotiate your first faculty position can be significant.
On the verge of following that path, something wonderful happened to him: a failing grade in high school science.
The light was failing, and he needed to return to camp before his colleagues started to worry.
When not in the ring, he visits patients with failing memories.
Organizational tools can help someone whose memory is already failing.
British Dictionary definitions for failing
fail1 (feɪl)
1.  to be unsuccessful in an attempt (at something or to do something)
2.  (intr) to stop operating or working properly: the steering failed suddenly
3.  to judge or be judged as being below the officially accepted standard required for success in (a course, examination, etc)
4.  (tr) to prove disappointing, undependable, or useless to (someone)
5.  (tr) to neglect or be unable (to do something)
6.  (intr) to prove partly or completely insufficient in quantity, duration, or extent
7.  (intr) to weaken; fade away
8.  (intr) to go bankrupt or become insolvent
9.  a failure to attain the required standard, as in an examination
10.  without fail definitely; with certainty
[C13: from Old French faillir, ultimately from Latin fallere to disappoint; probably related to Greek phēlos deceitful]

fail2 (fel)
(Scot) a turf; sod
[perhaps from Scottish Gaelic fàl]

failing (ˈfeɪlɪŋ)
1.  a weak point; flaw
2.  (used to express a condition) in default of: failing a solution this afternoon, the problem will have to wait until Monday

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for failing
early 13c., from O.Fr. faillir "be lacking, miss, not succeed," from V.L. *fallire, from L. fallere "deceive, be lacking or defective." Related: Failed; failing. Replaced O.E. abreoðan. The Anglo-Norm. form, failer, came to be used as a noun, hence failure.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Rhymes with failing

Difficulty index for failing

Most English speakers likely know this word

Tile value for failing

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with failing