a defect or imperfection; flaw; failing: a fault in the brakes; a fault in one's character.
responsibility for failure or a wrongful act: It is my fault that we have not finished.
an error or mistake: a fault in addition.
a misdeed or transgression: to confess one's faults.
a ball that when served does not land in the proper section of an opponent's court.
a failure to serve the ball according to the rules, as from within a certain area.
Geology, Mining. a break in the continuity of a body of rock or of a vein, with dislocation along the plane of the fracture (fault plane)
Manège. (of a horse jumping in a show) any of a number of improper executions in negotiating a jump, as a tick, knockdown, refusal, or run-out.
Electricity. a partial or total local failure in the insulation or continuity of a conductor or in the functioning of an electric system.
Hunting. a break in the line of scent; a losing of the scent; check.
Obsolete. lack; want.
verb (used without object)
to commit a fault; blunder; err.
Geology. to undergo faulting.
verb (used with object)
Geology. to cause a fault in.
to find fault with, blame, or censure.
at fault,
open to censure; blameworthy: to be at fault for a mistake.
in a dilemma; puzzled: to be at fault as to where to go.
(of hounds) unable to find the scent.
find fault, to seek and make known defects or flaws; complain; criticize: He constantly found fault with my behavior.
to a fault, to an extreme degree; excessively: She was generous to a fault.

1250–1300; Middle English faute < Anglo-French, Middle French < Vulgar Latin *fallita, noun use of feminine of *fallitus, for Latin falsus, past participle of fallere to be wrong

postfault, noun

1. blemish; frailty, shortcoming. Fault, failing, foible, weakness, vice imply shortcomings or imperfections in a person. Fault is the common word used to refer to any of the average shortcomings of a person; when it is used, condemnation is not necessarily implied: Of his many faults the greatest is vanity. Foible, failing, weakness all tend to excuse the person referred to. Of these foible is the mildest, suggesting a weak point that is slight and often amusing, manifesting itself in eccentricity rather than in wrongdoing: the foibles of artists. Weakness suggests that the person in question is unable to control a particular impulse, and gives way to self-indulgence: a weakness for pretty women. Failing is closely akin to fault except that it is particularly applied to humanity at large, suggesting common, often venial, shortcomings: Procrastination and making excuses are common failings. Vice (which may also apply to a sin in itself, apart from a person: the vice of gambling ) is the strongest term, and designates a habit that is truly detrimental or evil.

1. virtue, strength, merit.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To fault
World English Dictionary
fault (fɔːlt)
1.  an imperfection; failing or defect; flaw
2.  a mistake or error
3.  an offence; misdeed
4.  responsibility for a mistake or misdeed; culpability
5.  electronics a defect in a circuit, component, or line, such as a short circuit
6.  geology a fracture in the earth's crust resulting in the relative displacement and loss of continuity of the rocks on either side of it
7.  tennis, squash, badminton an invalid serve, such as one that lands outside a prescribed area
8.  (in showjumping) a penalty mark given for failing to clear or refusing a fence, exceeding a time limit, etc
9.  hunting an instance of the hounds losing the scent
10.  deficiency; lack; want
11.  at fault
 a.  guilty of error; culpable
 b.  perplexed
 c.  (of hounds) having temporarily lost the scent
12.  find fault to seek out minor imperfections or errors (in); carp (at)
13.  to a fault excessively
14.  geology to undergo or cause to undergo a fault
15.  (tr) to find a fault in, criticize, or blame
16.  (intr) to commit a fault
[C13: from Old French faute, from Vulgar Latin fallita (unattested), ultimately from Latin fallere to fail]

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 & History

late 13c., "deficiency," from O.Fr. faute "lack, deficiency," from V.L. *fallita "a shortcoming, falling," noun use of fem. pp., from L. falsus, pp. of fallere "deceive, disappoint" (see false). The -l- was restored 1400s, probably in imitation of L., but was not pronounced
till 18c. Sense of "physical defect" is from early 14c.; that of "moral culpability" is first recorded late 14c. Geological sense is from 1796. The use in tennis (c.1600) is closer to the etymological sense. The verb is first recorded 1550s in the sense "to find fault with." Related: Faulted; faulter; faulting.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Science Dictionary
fault  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (fôlt)  Pronunciation Key 

(click for larger image in new window)

A fracture in a rock formation along which there has been movement of the blocks of rock on either side of the plane of fracture. Faults are caused by plate-tectonic forces. See more at normal fault, reverse fault, strike-slip fault, thrust fault, transform fault. See Note at earthquake.

Our Living Language  : Bedrock, the solid rock just below the soil, is often cracked along surfaces known as planes. Cracks can extend up to hundreds of kilometers in length. When tensional and compressional stresses cause rocks separated by a crack to move past each other, the crack is known as a fault. Faults can be horizontal, vertical, or oblique. The movement can occur in the sudden jerks known as earthquakes. Normal faults, or tensional faults, occur when the rocks above the fault plane move down relative to the rocks below it, pulling the rocks apart. Where there is compression and folding, such as in mountainous regions, the rocks above the plane move upward relative to the rocks below the plane; these are called reverse faults. Strike-slip faults occur when shearing stress causes rocks on either side of the crack to slide parallel to the fault plane between them. Transform faults are strike-slip faults in which the crack is part of a boundary between two tectonic plates. A well-known example is the San Andreas Fault in California. Geologists use sightings of displaced outcroppings to infer the presence of faults, and they study faults to learn the history of the forces that have acted on rocks.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

fault definition

In geology, a place where sections of the crust of the Earth move relative to each other. (See earthquake and San Andreas fault.)

Note: Faults tend to occur near the edges of tectonic plates.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Computing Dictionary

fault definition

1. A manifestation of an error in software. A fault, if encountered, may cause a failure.
2. page fault.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see at fault; find fault; to a fault.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
That's why insurance agents recommend that you not accept fault or blame at the
The area's fault zone has been active for thousands of years and is likely to
  remain so.
The earthquakes generally aren't as strong as those along other fault zones,
  but they're frequent, shallow and damaging.
Idioms & Phrases
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature