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

ellipsis

a situation in which words are left out of a sentence but the sentence can still be understood

Word of the Day

Euphemisms (Words used to Avoid Offending People)

by Kate Woodford,
March 04, 2015
​​​ We recently looked at the language that we use to describe lies and lying. One area of lying that we considered was ‘being slightly dishonest, or not speaking the complete truth’. One reason for not speaking the complete truth is to avoid saying something that might upset or offend people. Words and

Read More 

snapchat verb

March 02, 2015
to send someone a message using the photomessaging application Snapchat We used to have a thing until he got a girlfriend. now

Read More