English dictionary

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English verb: fail

1. fail (social) fail to do something; leave something undone

SamplesShe failed to notice that her child was no longer in his crib.
The secretary failed to call the customer and the company lost the account.


Pattern of useSomebody ----s to INFINITIVE

Narrower (hyponym)choke, default, default on, lose track, miss, muff, strike out

2. fail (social) be unsuccessful

SamplesWhere do today's public schools fail?.
The attempt to rescue the hostages failed miserably.

Synonymsgo wrong, miscarry

Pattern of useSomething ----s.
Somebody ----s.
Something is ----ing PP.
Somebody ----s PP

Narrower (hyponym)ball up, blow, bobble, bodge, bollix, bollix up, bollocks, bollocks up, botch, botch up, bumble, bungle, fall, fall flat, fall through, flop, flub, fluff, foul up, founder, fuck up, fumble, louse up, mess up, mishandle, miss, muck up, muff, overreach, screw up, shipwreck, spoil, strike out, take it on the chin

Antonymsbring home the bacon, deliver the goods, succeed, come through, win

3. fail (emotion) disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake

SamplesHis sense of smell failed him this time.
His strength finally failed him.
His children failed him in the crisis.


Pattern of useSomebody ----s somebody.
Something ----s somebody

Broader (hypernym)disappoint, let down

4. fail (change) stop operating or functioning

SamplesThe engine finally went.
The car died on the road.
The bus we travelled in broke down on the way to town.
The coffee maker broke.
The engine failed on the way to town.
Her eyesight went after the accident.

ExamplesThese cars won't fail

Synonymsbreak, break down, conk out, die, give out, give way, go, go bad

Pattern of useSomething ----s

Broader (hypernym)change

Narrower (hyponym)blow, blow out, burn out, crash, go down, malfunction, misfire, misfunction

Verb groupbreak, buy the farm, cash in one's chips, choke, conk, croak, decease, die, drop dead, exit, expire, give-up the ghost, go, kick the bucket, pass, pass away, perish, pop off, snuff it

5. fail (social) be unable

SamplesI fail to understand your motives.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s to INFINITIVE

Antonymsbring off, carry off, manage, negociate, pull off

6. fail (social) judge unacceptable

SamplesThe teacher failed six students.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s somebody

Broader (hypernym)evaluate, judge, pass judgment

Verb groupbomb, fail, flunk, flush it


7. fail (social) fail to get a passing grade

SamplesShe studied hard but failed nevertheless.
Did I fail the test?.

Synonymsbomb, flunk, flush it

Pattern of useSomebody ----s.
Somebody ----s something

Verb groupfail, fail

Antonymsmake it, pass

8. fail (social) fall short in what is expected

SamplesShe failed in her obligations as a good daughter-in-law.
We must not fail his obligation to the victims of the Holocaust.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something.
Somebody ----s PP

Verb groupbomb, fail, flunk, flush it

9. fail (possession) become bankrupt or insolvent; fail financially and close

SamplesThe toy company went bankrupt after the competition hired cheap Mexican labor.
A number of banks failed that year.

Pattern of useSomething ----s.
Somebody ----s

10. fail (change) prove insufficient

SamplesThe water supply for the town failed after a long drought.

Synonymsgive out, run out

Pattern of useSomething ----s

11. fail (change) get worse

SamplesHer health is declining.

Pattern of useSomething ----s

Broader (hypernym)decline, worsen

Based on WordNet 3.0 copyright © Princeton University.
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