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From Middle English faute, faulte, from Anglo-Norman and Old French faute, from Vulgar Latin *fallita ‎(shortcoming), feminine of *fallitus, in place of Latin falsus, perfect passive participle of fallō ‎(deceive). Displaced native Middle English schuld, schuild ‎(fault) (from Old English scyld ‎(fault)), Middle English lac ‎(fault, lack) (from Middle Dutch lak ‎(lack, fault)), Middle English last ‎(fault, vice) (from Old Norse lǫstr, löstr ‎(fault, vice, crime)).


fault ‎(plural faults)

  1. A defect; something that detracts from perfection.
    • Shakespeare
      As patches set upon a little breach / Discredit more in hiding of the fault.
  2. A mistake or error.
    No!. This is my fault, not yours
  3. A weakness of character; a failing.
    For all her faults, she's a good person at heart.
  4. A minor offense.
  5. Blame; the responsibility for a mistake.
    The fault lies with you.
  6. (seismology) A fracture in a rock formation causing a discontinuity.
  7. (mining) In coal seams, coal rendered worthless by impurities in the seam.
    slate fault, dirt fault, etc.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Raymond to this entry?)
  8. (tennis) An illegal serve.
  9. (electrical) An abnormal connection in a circuit.
  10. (obsolete) want; lack
    • Shakespeare
      one, it pleases me, for fault of a better, to call my friend
  11. (hunting) A lost scent; act of losing the scent.
    • Shakespeare
      Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled, / With much ado, the cold fault clearly out.

Derived terms[edit]




fault ‎(third-person singular simple present faults, present participle faulting, simple past and past participle faulted)

  1. (transitive) To criticize, blame or find fault with something or someone.
    • Traditional song
      For that I will not fault thee / But for humbleness exalt thee.
  2. (intransitive, geology) To fracture.
  3. (intransitive) To commit a mistake or error.
  4. (intransitive, computing) To undergo a page fault.
    • 2002, Æleen Frisch, Essential system administration
      When a page is read in, a few pages surrounding the faulted page are typically loaded as well in the same I/O operation in an effort to head off future page faults.





  1. Obsolete spelling of faut (third-person singular present indicative of falloir)