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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English faynt, feynt (weak; feeble), from Old French faint, feint (feigned; negligent; sluggish), past participle of feindre, faindre (to feign; sham; work negligently), from Latin fingere (to touch, handle, usually form, shape, frame, form in thought, imagine, conceive, contrive, devise, feign).


faint (comparative fainter, superlative faintest)

  1. (of a being) Lacking strength; weak; languid; inclined to lose consciousness
    I felt faint after my fifth gin and tonic.
  2. Lacking courage, spirit, or energy; cowardly; dejected
    • (Can we date this quote?) "Faint heart ne'er won fair lady." Robert Burns - To Dr. Blackjack.
  3. Hardly perceptible; not bright, or loud, or sharp
    There was a faint red light in the distance.
  4. Performed, done, or acted, weakly; not exhibiting vigor, strength, or energy
    faint efforts
    faint resistance
  5. Slight; minimal.
    • 2005, Plato, Sophist. Translation by Lesley Brown. 243b.
      do you have the faintest understanding of what they mean?
Derived terms[edit]


faint (plural faints)

  1. The act of fainting, syncope.
  2. (rare) The state of one who has fainted; a swoon.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English fainten, feynten, from the adjective (see above).


faint (third-person singular simple present faints, present participle fainting, simple past and past participle fainted)

  1. (intransitive) To lose consciousness. Caused by a lack of oxygen or nutrients to the brain, usually as a result of a suddenly reduced blood flow (may be caused by emotional trauma, loss of blood or various medical conditions).
    • Bible, Mark viii. 8
      If I send them away fasting [] they will faint by the way.
    • Guardian
      Hearing the honour intended her, she fainted away.
  2. To sink into dejection; to lose courage or spirit; to become depressed or despondent.
    • Bible, Proverbs xxiv. 10
      If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
  3. To decay; to disappear; to vanish.
    • Alexander Pope
      Gilded clouds, while we gaze upon them, faint before the eye.

Further reading[edit]



Alternative forms[edit]


Shortened from pa faint (what amount).




  1. how much, how many

Usage notes[edit]

Faint means either how many, followed by o and the plural form of a noun with soft mutation, or how much, preceding o and the singular form of a noun, again with soft mutation. Sawl corresponds only to English how many and is followed by the singular form of a noun.