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Meaning of fail

fail

Pronunciation: (fāl), [key]
— v.i.
  1. to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved: The experiment failed because of poor planning.
  2. to receive less than the passing grade or mark in an examination, class, or course of study: He failed in history.
  3. to be or become deficient or lacking; be insufficient or absent; fall short: Our supplies failed.
  4. to dwindle, pass, or die away: The flowers failed for lack of rain.
  5. to lose strength or vigor; become weak: His health failed after the operation.
  6. to become unable to meet or pay debts or business obligations; become insolvent or bankrupt.
  7. (of a building member, structure, machine part, etc.) to break, bend, crush, or be otherwise destroyed or made useless because of an excessive load.
  8. to stop functioning or operating: The electricity failed during the storm.
—v.t.
  1. to be unsuccessful in the performance or completion of: He failed to do his duty.
  2. (of some expected or usual resource) to prove of no use or help to: His friends failed him. Words failed her.
  3. to receive less than a passing grade or mark in: He failed history.
  4. 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.
—n.
    1. a stockbroker's inability to deliver or receive security within the required time after sale or purchase.
    2. such an undelivered security.
  1. failure as to performance, occurrence, etc.
  2. with certainty; positively: I will visit you tomorrow without fail.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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