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This page has 4 definitions of failure in English. Failure is a noun. Also define these 19 related words and terms: state, condition, meet, desirable, intended, objective, opposite, success, object, endeavour, incapable, terminate, ability, item, perform, required, function, breakdown, and bankruptcy.



From Anglo-Norman failer, from Old French faillir (to fail).



failure (countable and uncountable, plural failures)

  1. State or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, opposite of success.
    • 2012 May 5, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport:
      For Liverpool, their season will now be regarded as a relative disappointment after failure to add the FA Cup to the Carling Cup and not mounting a challenge to reach the Champions League places.
    • 2012 April 23, Angelique Chrisafis, “François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election”, in the Guardian:
      Sarkozy's total will be seen as a personal failure. It is the first time an outgoing president has failed to win a first-round vote in the past 50 years and makes it harder for Sarkozy to regain momentum.
  2. An object, person or endeavour in a state of failure or incapable of success.
  3. Termination of the ability of an item to perform its required function; breakdown.
    • 2013 June 28, Joris Luyendijk, “Our banks are out of control”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 3, page 21:
      Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic […].  Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. When a series of bank failures made this impossible, there was widespread anger, leading to the public humiliation of symbolic figures.
    • 2019 October, Ian Walmsley, “Cleaning up”, in Modern Railways, page 42:
      But as with individual train failures you have to tackle every one as it arises and assume it will happen again, which it will, if you don't do something about it.
    • Required definition
      simple past tense and past participle of require
  4. Bankruptcy.
    • Bankruptcy definition
      A legally declared or recognized condition of insolvency of a person or organization.


  • (person incapable of success): loser


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Related terms