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/
[I] to not succeeed in something you are trying to do: fail to do sth They failed to reach an agreement with the board members. fail in sth Last year the company failed in its bid to renew their contract. All their efforts seem to have failed. Some employees will not take risks because they're scared of failing.
[I] if a business fails, it is unsuccessful and cannot continue to operate: Over 3000 small businesses failed in the first quarter of the year. Is it better for the economy to let unsuccessful companies fail or to bail them out?
[I or T] to not pass an exam or test, or not reach a necessary standard: About half of all candidates taking the more advanced exams fail. The company repeatedly failed inspections by Health and Safety officials.
[I] if a machine or system fails, it stops working: If the system fails for any reason, the emergency back-up will kick in.
[I] formal to not do something that you should do: fail to do sth What can be done about clients who fail to pay their debts? →  See also too big to fail
(Definition of fail from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of fail?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

More Business English definitions for “fail”

Definitions of “fail” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

comma

the symbol , used in writing to separate parts of a sentence showing a slight pause, or to separate the single things in a list

Word of the Day

Lies, lies, lies!

by Kate Woodford,
February 25, 2015
​​​ According to sociologists (=people who study the relationships between people living in groups), we are good at lying. As a species, we have developed a remarkable ability to deceive each other (= persuade each other that something false is true). Being able to say things that are not true can help with

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