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From Anglo-Norman failer, from Old French faillir (to fail).



failure (countable and uncountable, plural failures)

  1. State or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, opposite of success.
    • 2012 May 5, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport:
      For Liverpool, their season will now be regarded as a relative disappointment after failure to add the FA Cup to the Carling Cup and not mounting a challenge to reach the Champions League places.
    • 2012 April 23, Angelique Chrisafis, “François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election”, in the Guardian:
      Sarkozy's total will be seen as a personal failure. It is the first time an outgoing president has failed to win a first-round vote in the past 50 years and makes it harder for Sarkozy to regain momentum.
    • 2023 April 21, Li Zhou, “Why SpaceX doesn't see its rocket explosion as a failure. Experts also viewed the test as a valuable way to see what works — and what doesn't.”, in Vox[1], retrieved 2023-04-22:
      What exactly is a "successful failure" in rocket science? A so-called "successful failure" is one where important lessons can be gleaned for future tests and where the risks of harm are low, experts say.
    1. (pathology) A condition in which a specified organ does not function well enough to support life.
      heart failure
      congestive heart failure
      liver failure
      kidney failure
  2. Omission to do something, whether or not it was attempted, especially something that ought to have been done.
  3. An object, person or endeavour in a state of failure or incapable of success.
  4. Termination of the ability of an item to perform its required function; breakdown.
    • 2013 June 28, Joris Luyendijk, “Our banks are out of control”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 3, page 21:
      Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic […].  Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. When a series of bank failures made this impossible, there was widespread anger, leading to the public humiliation of symbolic figures.
    • 2019 October, Ian Walmsley, “Cleaning up”, in Modern Railways, page 42:
      But as with individual train failures you have to tackle every one as it arises and assume it will happen again, which it will, if you don't do something about it.
  5. Bankruptcy.


  • (opposite of success): fail (noun)
  • (person incapable of success): loser



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