Definition of failure in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfālyər/


1Lack of success: an economic policy that is doomed to failure the failures of his policies
More example sentences
  • New national policies are doomed to failure if they are not part of an overall solution.
  • It may be argued that the degree of disturbance of these areas is a barometer of the success or failure of the policies adopted here for the past five decades.
  • However, the sheer irrationality of continuing to expand a policy doomed to failure begs an explanation.
lack of success, nonfulfillment, defeat, collapse, foundering
fiasco, debacle, catastrophe, disaster
informal flop, megaflop, washout, dead loss, snafu, clinker, dud, no-go
1.1An unsuccessful person, enterprise, or thing: bad weather had resulted in crop failures
More example sentences
  • Remember, there are no failures in the business of plan implementation, only feedback.
  • There are 22,000 schools in Britain, many, by this Government's own reckoning, failures in the business of education.
  • Cassie is considered somewhat a failure since she was unsuccessful in joining the school's social elite.
loser, underachiever, ne'er-do-well, disappointment
informal no-hoper, dead loss, dud, write-off, busted flush
inadequacy, insufficiency, deficiency, dearth, scarcity, shortfall
2The omission of expected or required action: their failure to comply with the basic rules
More example sentences
  • The strictest compliance was expected and failure to comply meant harsh punishment.
  • There is no requirement that failure to comply with these provisions has any causative relationship to the making of the statement.
  • Colleges could face stiff sanctions for failure to comply with requirements, the bill states.
negligence, dereliction;
omission, oversight
2.1A lack or deficiency of a desirable quality: a failure of imagination
More example sentences
  • He was the tangible symbol of the Baby Boom, its conceits, its self-absorption, its lack of discipline and failures of responsibility.
  • A spokesman from Orkney Islands Council said there was no suggestion of any failures in the quality of the service provided by staff to the food industry and consumers.
  • We are more tolerant of failures in quality now, and more receptive, at last, to the thought that the idea is more important than the medium.
3The action or state of not functioning: symptoms of heart failure an engine failure
More example sentences
  • Kidney failure occurs when kidney function deteriorates to such an extent that death will occur without renal replacement therapy such as haemodialysis.
  • The damage can lead to poor liver function and liver failure.
  • This is important for patients with impaired kidney function or liver failure who cannot clear the extra ammonia.
3.1A sudden cessation of power.
Example sentences
  • During any sudden power failure, the system automatically switches to regular electricity.
  • I suggest it's time to investigate various aircraft accidents, power failures, and claims of abductions with the realization that UFOs are real.
  • Strikes, accidents, weather, power failures - does it really matter why the trains aren't running?
3.2The collapse of a business.
Example sentences
  • This has led to a worldwide assault on auto workers' jobs, as well as business failures, including the bankruptcy announcement earlier this month by Daewoo Motors of South Korea.
  • This coincides with rising or record levels of poverty, homelessness, job insecurity, personal bankruptcies and small business failures.
  • Are we going to see more closures or failures in the ISP business?
collapse, crash, bankruptcy, insolvency, liquidation, closure


Mid 17th century (originally as failer, in the senses 'nonoccurrence' and 'cessation of supply'): from Anglo-Norman French failer for Old French faillir (see fail).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fail·ure

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