Meaning of “fair” in the English Dictionary

"fair" in British English

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uk /feər/ us /fer/

fair adjective (RIGHT)

B1 treating someone in a way that is right or reasonable, or treating a group of people equally and not allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment:

a fair trial
Why should I have to do all the cleaning? It's not fair!
It's not fair on Joe (= it is not right) to make him do all the work!
It's not fair that she's allowed to go and I'm not!
It's not fair to blame me for everything!
She's scrupulously fair with all her employees (= she treats them all equally).
UK She claims her article was a fair comment on (= a reasonable thing to say about) a matter of public interest.
He offered to do all the cleaning if I did all the cooking, which seemed like a fair (= reasonable) deal.

B1 If something is fair, it is reasonable and is what you expect or deserve:

I thought it was a fair price that she was offering.
I'm willing to do my fair (= equal) share of the work.
All the workers want is a fair wage for the work that they do.

If a game or competition is fair, it is done according to the rules:

It was a fair fight.
it's only fair

it is the right way to treat someone and what they deserve:

I think it's only fair to tell you that we have had over 300 applications for this job.
it's fair to say

it is true to say:

I think it's fair to say (that) you've done less of the work than I have.
to be fair

considering everything that has an effect on a situation, so that a fair judgment can be made:

He's done the job badly but, to be fair, I gave him very little time to do it.
fair enough B2 UK informal

something you say to show that you understand why someone has done or said something:

"I'm just annoyed with him because he's behaved so badly." "Fair enough."
fair's fair UK also fair dos informal

something that you say when you want someone to behave reasonably or treat you the same as other people:

Come on, it's my turn. Fair's fair!
a fair hearing

an opportunity to explain something or give your opinions, without other people trying to influence the situation:

He didn't think that he got a fair hearing in court.
fair and square

in an honest way and without any doubt:

We won the match fair and square.

UK US squarely If you hit someone fair and square on a particular part of their body, you hit that person hard, exactly on that part:

He hit me fair and square on the nose.

More examples

fair adjective (PALE)

A2 (of skin) pale, or (of hair) pale yellow or gold:

She's got fair hair and blue eyes.
a fair complexion
My sister has dark hair but my brother's fair (= he has fair hair).
He's fair-haired.
All my family are fair-skinned.

fairnoun [ C ]

uk /feər/ us /fer/

a large public event where goods are bought and sold, usually from tables that have been specially arranged for the event, and where there is often entertainment:

I bought a wooden salad bowl at the local craft fair.

B1 UK also funfair, US also carnival an outside event where you can ride on large machines for pleasure and play games to win prizes

C1 a large show at which people who work in a particular industry meet, and sell and advertise their products:

a trade fair

a public event in the countryside where farm animals and farm products are sold:

US a county/state fair

UK also fete a public event, often held outside, where you can take part in competitions and buy small things and food, often organized to collect money for a particular purpose:

the school fair

(Definition of “fair” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"fair" in American English

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us /feər/

fair adjective (RIGHT)

[ -er/-est only ] treating someone in a way that is right or reasonable, or treating people equally and not allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment:

All he asks is a fair chance to prove his innocence.
I’m willing to do my fair share of the work (= equal part).

[ -er/-est only ] If a game or competition is fair, it is done according to the rules:

It was a fair fight.

[ -er/-est only ] In some sports, esp. baseball, fair means within the playing field:

The umpire ruled it a fair ball.

fair adjective (AVERAGE)

[ not gradable ] neither very good nor very bad:

He’s good in physics but only fair in math.

fair adjective (LARGE)

[ not gradable ] large or great in comparison:

We still had a fair amount of foreign money when we returned.

fair adjective (CORRECT)

[ not gradable ] likely to be correct; accurate:

The architect’s drawing will give you a pretty fair idea of what the completed house will look like.

fair adjective (WEATHER)

fair adjective (PALE)

[ -er/-est only ] (of skin) pale, or (of hair) light in color:

If you have fair skin, you’ll get a sunburn easily.


fairnoun [ C ]

us /fer, fær/

fair noun [ C ] (PUBLIC EVENT)

a public event, usually held outside, where goods and sometimes farm animals are shown and sold and where there is often food and entertainment

county/state fair

A county/state fair is one where farm animals and products from that region are shown to compete for prizes and there is food and entertainment.

street fair

A street fair is one where a city street is closed to cars so that goods and food can be sold to people walking through it.

A fair is also a show at which people who work in a particular industry meet to sell and advertise their products:

(Definition of “fair” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"fair" in Business English

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treating people equally and in a way that is right and reasonable:

It's the government's job to make sure that the tax system is fair and equitable.
be fair on sb The new regulations are not fair on working parents.
Everyone has the right to a fair trial.
Corporations must pay their fair share of the cost of the construction work.

a fair price, wage, rent, etc. is not too high or too low:

All we're asking for is a fair wage.
Local growers must be given a fair price for their produce.

fairnoun [ C ]

uk /feər/ us

COMMERCE, MARKETING a large event at which manufacturers, business people, and individuals advertise and sometimes sell their products and services:

The Battersea Contemporary Art Fair is one of the largest in the UK.

(Definition of “fair” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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