Meaning of “fatal” in the English Dictionary

"fatal" in British English

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uk /ˈfeɪ.təl/ us /ˈfeɪ.t̬əl/

B2 A fatal illness, accident, etc. causes death:

This illness is fatal in almost all cases.
the fatal shooting of an unarmed 15-year-old

B2 very serious and having an important bad effect in the future:

He made the fatal mistake/error of believing what they told him.
It just shows how you should never say how well things are going for you - it's fatal (= it causes bad things to happen).

More examples

  • The conspirators' plot failed because they made two fatal miscalculations.
  • Hepatitis is a potentially fatal disease.
  • It is a form of anaemia which is nearly always fatal if left untreated.
  • There's a fatal flaw in your reasoning.
  • The police are investigating a fatal car crash that occurred last night.
adverb uk /ˈfeɪ.təl.i/ us /ˈfeɪ.t̬əl.i/

Several people were injured, two fatally (= they died as a result).

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

"fatal" in American English

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fataladjective [ not gradable ]

us /ˈfeɪ·t̬əl/

(of illness, accidents, etc.) causing death:

a fatal heart attack

Fatal can also mean severe enough to produce a very bad result:

a fatal mistake/flaw
adverb [ not gradable ] us /ˈfeɪ·t̬əl·i/

Several people were injured, two fatally.

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