Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “fail”

See all translations

fail

verb
 
 
/feɪl/
NOT SUCCEED [I] B2 to not be successful: Dad's business failed after just three years. She keeps failing in her attempt to lose weight.Failing and doing badlyUnsuccessful (people and things)
fail to do sth B2 to not do what is necessary or expected: John failed to turn up for football practice yesterday.Failing and doing badly
EXAM [I, T] A2 to not pass a test or an exam, or to decide that someone has not passed: I'm worried about failing my driving test.Failing and doing badlyExams, tests and exercises
STOP WORKING [I] B2 to stop working normally, or to become weaker: Two of the plane's engines had failed. My eyesight's beginning to fail.Failing and doing badlyBecoming and making less strong
NOT HELPING [T] to stop being helpful or useful to someone when they need you: The government is failing the poor and unemployed.Failing and doing badly
I fail to see/understand used to show that you do not accept something: [+ question word] I fail to see why you cannot work on a Sunday.Refusing and rejecting
(Definition of fail verb from the Cambridge Learners Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

More Learner's Dictionary definitions for “fail”

Definitions of “fail” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

cold snap

a short period of cold weather

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More