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[feyl-yer] /ˈfeɪl yər/
an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success:
His effort ended in failure. The campaign was a failure.
nonperformance of something due, required, or expected:
a failure to do what one has promised; a failure to appear.
a subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency:
the failure of crops.
deterioration or decay, especially of vigor, strength, etc.:
The failure of her health made retirement necessary.
a condition of being bankrupt by reason of insolvency.
a becoming insolvent or bankrupt:
the failure of a bank.
a person or thing that proves unsuccessful:
He is a failure in his career. The cake is a failure.
Origin of failure
1635-45; fail + -ure; replacing failer a (de)fault < Anglo-French (noun use of infinitive), for Old French faillir
Related forms
nonfailure, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for failure
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But let me say to you very kindly but very plainly your life thus far is a failure.

    Quiet Talks on Power S.D. Gordon
  • They considered civilisation a failure because it was killing off all the big game.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • For Old Eli had been a failure, a flat, appalling, stupefying failure.

  • There could not be a giving up—and there must not be failure.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • The thought of the loss of the gold was forgotten in his disappointment at failure.

British Dictionary definitions for failure


the act or an instance of failing
a person or thing that is unsuccessful or disappointing: the evening was a failure
nonperformance of something required or expected: failure to attend will be punished
cessation of normal operation; breakdown: a power failure
an insufficiency or shortage: a crop failure
a decline or loss, as in health or strength
the fact of not reaching the required standard in an examination, test, course, etc
the act or process of becoming bankrupt or the state of being bankrupt
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for failure

1640s, failer, from Anglo-French failer, from Old French falir (see fail (v.)). The verb in Anglo-French used as a noun; ending altered 17c. to conform with words in -ure.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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failure in Medicine

failure fail·ure (fāl'yər)
The inability to function or perform satisfactorily.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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failure in Technology

The inability of a system or system component to perform a required function within specified limits. A failure may be produced when a fault is encountered.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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