Meaning of fail-safe

fail-safe

Pronunciation: (fāl'sāf"), [key]
— adj., n., v., -safed, -saf•ing.
—adj.
  1. pertaining to or noting a mechanism built into a system, as in an early warning system or a nuclear reactor, for insuring safety should the system fail to operate properly.
  2. equipped with a secondary system that insures continued operation even if the primary system fails.
  3. (sometimes cap.) of, pertaining to, or designating a system of coded military controls in which bombers dispatched to a prearranged point as part of a standard operating procedure cannot advance farther without direct orders from a designated authority and cannot have the nuclear warheads they carry armed until they have passed their prearranged point.
  4. guaranteed to work; totally reliable: a fail-safe recipe for a cheese soufflé.
—n.
  1. (sometimes cap.) the point beyond which the bombers cannot go without specific instruction; the fail-safe point.
  2. something designed to work or function automatically to prevent breakdown of a mechanism, system, or the like.
—v.t.
  1. to make fail-safe.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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