Definition of fault in English:

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Pronunciation: /fôlt/


1An unattractive or unsatisfactory feature, especially in a piece of work or in a person’s character: my worst fault is impatience
More example sentences
  • Character faults and foibles surface slowly and are dealt with compassionately.
  • He's a complex character with many faults and makes mistakes.
  • Does your main character have faults of his own?
1.1A break or other defect in an electrical circuit or piece of machinery: a fire caused by an electrical fault
More example sentences
  • The alarm was raised around 6.45 pm after an electrical fault caused the machine to ignite at the property in Hermes Way.
  • The problems have been attributed to computer software failure and electrical faults.
  • Time stood still for beer-lovers on campus last week, as the beer-taps at Eastside broke down due to an electrical fault.
defect, flaw, imperfection, bug;
error, mistake, inaccuracy
informal glitch, gremlin
1.2A misguided or dangerous action or habit: it has been the great fault of our politicians that they have all wanted to do something
More example sentences
  • I felt very emotional during the service, my lip trembling on several occasions, and I slipped into my usual fault of speaking softly when that happens.
  • Indeed, if Monica has a fault, it's an excessively trusting nature, a habit of putting loyalty before sense.
defect, failing, imperfection, flaw, blemish, shortcoming, weakness, frailty, foible, vice
1.3(In tennis and similar games) a service of the ball not in accordance with the rules.
Example sentences
  • All tosses should be hit: if they throw the ball up, it's going to be a fault if they catch it.
1.4 (usually faults) (In show jumping) a penalty point imposed for an error.
Example sentences
  • Ben showed great determination and skill over both courses putting up seven faults in show-jumping and a superb clear over the cross-country course.
  • Ward scored four faults on each mount with Sasha getting the higher placing based on a better time over the 15-jump course.
  • Torano scored four faults for one rail down at the sixth fence and finished with a time of 41.148 seconds.
2Responsibility for an accident or misfortune: an ordinary man thrust into peril through no fault of his own it was his fault she had died
More example sentences
  • That fact, however, does not, in my judgment, acquit the claimant of any responsibility or fault for the accident that so arises.
  • These signs will provide some recognition for road victims who died through no fault of their own.
  • These 18 people died through no fault of their own.
responsibility, liability, culpability, blameworthiness, guilt
3 Geology An extended break in a body of rock, marked by the relative displacement and discontinuity of strata on either side of a particular surface.
Example sentences
  • Most transform faults are found on the ocean floor.
  • Questions have also been raised over the possibility of a earthquake fault line nearby.
  • Iranian leaders have promised to rebuild the town, which is on a major earthquake fault line.


[with object]
1Criticize for inadequacy or mistakes: her colleagues and superiors could not fault her dedication to the job you cannot fault him for the professionalism of his approach
More example sentences
  • So he can't fault us for raising these questions now.
  • While I can't fault her for professionalism, at the very least I would have expected a smile, or, really, any show of emotion at all.
  • Of course, the group is composed of ‘creative types’ so you can't fault them for being creative with the truth.
find fault with, criticize, attack, censure, condemn, reproach;
complain about, quibble about, moan about
informal knock, slam, gripe about, beef about, pick holes in
1.1 [no object] archaic Do wrong: the people of Caesarea faulted greatly when they called King Herod a god
More example sentences
  • Each time she faulted, she would silently curse herself as the wrong note amplified itself in the empty hall.
  • She faulted, and the linesman, as ever, shouted ‘out’.
2 (be faulted) Geology (Of a rock formation) be broken by a fault or faults: rift valleys where the crust has been stretched and faulted (as noun faulting) a complex pattern of faulting
More example sentences
  • Does lithology account for the very different patterns of faulting in the Permian sandstones and dolostones?
  • The seismic data show faulting of the subsurface sediments, possibly as dikes were injected into the center of the basin.
  • The original form of these basins has been modified by subsequent faulting, Red Sea rift flank uplift, and erosion.



at fault

1Responsible for an undesirable situation or event; in the wrong: we recover compensation from the person at fault
More example sentences
  • Let's just hope we eventually have a clear picture of went wrong and who was at fault.
  • If anyone is at fault in this situation, it's the restaurateur who has chosen a wine that may or may not be good.
  • The second exception to the general rule occurs when a party is at fault in employing wrong or defective procedures.
to blame, blameworthy, culpable;
responsible, guilty, in the wrong
2Mistaken or defective: he suspected that his calculator was at fault
More example sentences
  • Such behaviour sounds scarcely credible, but I'm sure memory isn't at fault here.
  • It is not the mechanism of A-levels which is at fault but, rather, the conscious decision to change the way they are marked.
  • He said there may be a charge, but if it's their equipment at fault there won't be a charge.

find fault

Make an adverse criticism or objection, sometimes unfairly or destructively: he finds fault with everything I do
More example sentences
  • It is all too easy to criticise or find fault in what others do.
  • Certainly envy seeks to spoil it by finding fault and criticising every blemish.
  • Its hard for a critic not to find fault, kind of removes the point really.

— to a fault

(Of someone who displays a particular commendable quality) to an extent verging on excess: you’re kind, caring and generous to a fault
More example sentences
  • Nevertheless, incumbent officeholders, candidates, and aspirants are pragmatic to a fault, and their main concern is with winning elections.
  • When I was in high school, my honors English teacher once said to me that my writing was ‘concise to a fault.’
  • She was generous to a fault and belonged to a generation of people who never counted the cost of community involvement but gave themselves wholeheartedly to the overall good.
excessively, unduly, immoderately, overly, needlessly


Middle English faut(e) 'lack, failing,' from Old French, based on Latin fallere 'deceive'. The -l- was added (in French and English) in the 15th century to conform with the Latin word, but did not become standard in English until the 17th century, remaining silent in pronunciation until well into the 18th.

  • false from Old English:

    Along with default (Middle English), fail (Middle English), and fault (Middle English), false comes from Latin fallere ‘to deceive’. A false dawn is a light which in Eastern countries is briefly seen about an hour before sunrise. The expression, the translation of an Arabic phrase, is often used to describe a promising situation which has, or is likely to, come to nothing.

Words that rhyme with fault

assault, Balt, exalt, halt, malt, salt, smalt, vault

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fault

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