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English definition of “fail”

fail

verb uk   /feɪl/ us  

fail verb (NOT SUCCEED)

B2 [I] to not succeed in what you are trying to achieve or are expected to do: She moved to London in the hope of finding work as a model, but failed. This method of growing tomatoes never fails. He failed in his attempt to break the record. [+ to infinitive] She failed to reach the Wimbledon Final this year. The reluctance of either side to compromise means that the talks are doomed to (= will certainly) fail.Failing and doing badly if all else fails if none of our plans succeed: If all else fails, we can always spend the holidays at home.Failing and doing badly

fail verb (EXAM)

A2 [I or T] to be unsuccessful, or to judge that someone has been unsuccessful in a test or exam: I passed in history but failed in chemistry. A lot of people fail their driving test the first time. The examiners failed him because he hadn't answered enough questions.Exams, tests and exercisesFailing and doing badly

fail verb (NOT DO)

B2 [I] to not do something that you should do: [+ to infinitive] He failed to arrive on time. The club had been promised a grant from the council, but the money failed to (= did not) materialize. You couldn't fail to be (= it is impossible that you would not be) affected by the film. I'd be failing in my duty if I didn't tell you about the risks involved in the project.Failing and doing badly fail to see/understand C2 used when you do not accept something: I fail to see why you can't work on a Saturday.Unaware

fail verb (STOP)

B2 [I] to become weaker or stop working completely: If my eyesight fails, I'll have to stop doing this job. The brakes failed and the car crashed into a tree. After talking non-stop for two hours, her voice started to fail. The old man was failing fast (= he was dying).Becoming and making less strongNot functioning [I] If a business fails, it is unable to continue because of money problems.Starting, succeeding and failing in business

fail verb (NOT HELP)

[T] to not help someone when you are expected to do so: He failed her when she most needed him. When I looked down and saw how far I had to jump, my courage failed me (= I felt very frightened).Disappointing yourself and others

fail

noun [C] uk   /feɪl/ us  
an unsuccessful result in a course, test, or exam: John got three passes and four fails in his exams.FailuresAccidents and disastersHigher and lower points of achievementMarks and results
without fail If you do something without fail, you always do it: I go to the gym every Monday and Wednesday, without fail.Always and never used to tell someone that they must do something: Be there at nine o'clock, without fail.Duty, obligation and responsibility

fail

exclamation uk   /feɪl/ US informal us  
used for saying that you disapprove of what someone did: You actually did his homework for him? Fail!
(Definition of fail from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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