Origin: 1350–1400;Middle English (< Old French) < Latinfātālis of fate. See fate, -al1
Can be confused: fatal, fateful, fetal (see synonym study at the current entry).
Synonyms 1. Fatal, deadly, lethal, mortal apply to something that has caused or is capable of causing death. Fatal may refer to either the future or the past; in either case, it emphasizes inevitability and the inescapable—the disastrous, whether death or dire misfortune: The accident was fatal. Such a mistake would be fatal.Deadly looks to the future, and suggests that which is likely to cause death (though not inevitably so): a deadly poison, disease. Like deadly, lethal looks to the future but, like many other words of Latin origin, suggests a more technical usage: a lethal dose; a gas that is lethal.Mortal looks to the past and refers to death that has actually occurred: He received a mortal wound. The disease proved to be mortal.2. ruinous, disastrous, calamitous, catastrophic, devastating. 4. predestined, foreordained.