Definition of failure in English:



  • 1Lack of success:

    ‘an economic policy that is doomed to failure’
    • ‘It may be argued that the degree of disturbance of these areas is a barometer of the success or failure of the policies adopted here for the past five decades.’
    • ‘Key factors influencing the success or failure of the government's policy are likely to be psychological in nature.’
    • ‘All the success and all the failure, all the experiences I have been blessed with-I took them with me when I went to the block.’
    • ‘The medical device industry cannot deliver anything close to perfection unless it expects failure.’
    • ‘However, the sheer irrationality of continuing to expand a policy doomed to failure begs an explanation.’
    • ‘New national policies are doomed to failure if they are not part of an overall solution.’
    • ‘Both the success and the failure of this movie are to be found in the author's treatment of the narrative.’
    • ‘This implies that you read omission to mean failure where you ought to have done something.’
    • ‘Plus, dealing with failure would require more than running to a shop with the receipt for a warranty exchange.’
    • ‘Techniques of open mastoid or modified radical mastoidectomy that are required to avoid failure are discussed and illustrated.’
    • ‘There has been an inadequate emphasis in some cases on real discovery, which requires a tolerance of failure.’
    • ‘For this reason health should be the pre-eminent measure of the success or failure of development policies in the next century.’
    • ‘As you can see from the photos, the rivets form an integral part of the chassis, so rivet failure will require frame replacement.’
    • ‘Depending on which side you stand, success is failure, victory is disaster.’
    • ‘He said the principal officials will be accountable to the chief executive for the success or failure of their policy initiatives.’
    • ‘Corruption takes root when donors expect failure and recipients know that dismal performance will bring no adverse consequences.’
    • ‘Hence, the high rate of hatching failure in bee-eaters requires explanation.’
    • ‘Success or failure of disaster response is determined greatly by access to communication and reliable information.’
    • ‘He is thus responsible for the success or failure of his policies.’
    • ‘He is paid a fixed salary and will not be affected financially by the success or failure of the policy on competing interests.’
    lack of success, non-success, non-fulfilment, abortion, miscarriage, defeat, frustration, collapse, foundering, misfiring, coming to nothing, falling through
    fiasco, debacle, catastrophe, disaster, blunder, vain attempt, abortion, defeat
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[count noun] An unsuccessful person or thing:
      ‘bad weather had resulted in crop failures’
      • ‘A severe drought has left much of the country parched and barren, with some crops declared a complete failure.’
      • ‘But the very lack of documented failures in the co-management literature is in itself suspicious.’
      • ‘Cassie is considered somewhat a failure since she was unsuccessful in joining the school's social elite.’
      • ‘By the end of October the national wheat crop was a total failure.’
      • ‘But maybe that phone number screw-up is just so abysmal that it's got to be graded a failure.’
      • ‘I was trying to say that I feel a failure for not providing enough for us three to live on this month.’
      • ‘We fully expected each failure, because we knew quite well when we had broken the rules.’
      • ‘Despite the fact that GM crops are a failure, they are urging the government to remove the ban or be left behind.’
      • ‘Remember, there are no failures in the business of plan implementation, only feedback.’
      • ‘There are 22,000 schools in Britain, many, by this Government's own reckoning, failures in the business of education.’
      • ‘The thread that connects these failures is the lack of true trilateral cooperation.’
      inadequacy, insufficiency, deficiency, lack, dearth, scarcity, shortfall
      loser, born loser, incompetent, non-achiever, underachiever, ne'er-do-well, disappointment, write-off
      View synonyms
  • 2The neglect or omission of expected or required action:

    ‘their failure to comply with the basic rules’
    • ‘There is no requirement that failure to comply with these provisions has any causative relationship to the making of the statement.’
    • ‘Darwin's foremost omission was his failure to progress in elucidating the principles of genetics.’
    • ‘Colleges could face stiff sanctions for failure to comply with requirements, the bill states.’
    • ‘Gone was the swagger and prevision to be replaced with a few slack passes and failure to read situations.’
    • ‘It is what the people expect and its failure to govern decisively is the source of popular disillusion with Scottish democracy.’
    • ‘We should bear in mind though that growth is never guaranteed and that failure to deliver expected growth could be severely punished.’
    • ‘There was no physical act on the part of D which caused the injury but rather an omission, i.e. his failure to apply the handbrake.’
    • ‘In all those cases the omission relied on is failure on the part of the defendant to exercise its statutory powers.’
    • ‘The strictest compliance was expected and failure to comply meant harsh punishment.’
    • ‘All these cases were due to failure to comply with the necessary requirements for entering the country, Varvarigu said.’
    negligence, remissness, non-observance, non-performance, dereliction
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[count noun] A lack or deficiency of a desirable quality:
      ‘a failure of imagination’
      • ‘To put it generously, this was a terrible failure of imagination.’
      • ‘Or do these final chapters represent conjoined failures of imagination and tolerance on the author's part?’
      • ‘It was a failure of imagination of epic proportions on my part.’
      • ‘The recent floods in Yorkshire were lamentably derivative and showed a complete failure of creative imagination.’
      • ‘What if we are suffering from a failure of imagination?’
      • ‘When it is understood how common ‘normal accidents’ are, it is recognized why failures in quality and safety occur.’
      • ‘And - in what is perhaps a failure of imagination on my part - I can't figure out what else he meant by this.’
      • ‘He was the tangible symbol of the Baby Boom, its conceits, its self-absorption, its lack of discipline and failures of responsibility.’
      • ‘It's an interesting idea, but I suspect that it's suffering from a failure of imagination.’
      • ‘But I don't expect that kind of failure of the basic responsibilities of the office.’
      • ‘But it cannot be effective without reform of its two main failures - a lack of clear direction and the inefficient management of participatory time.’
      • ‘A spokesman from Orkney Islands Council said there was no suggestion of any failures in the quality of the service provided by staff to the food industry and consumers.’
      • ‘We are more tolerant of failures in quality now, and more receptive, at last, to the thought that the idea is more important than the medium.’
      • ‘To a jaded eye it looked like a mass failure of imagination.’
      • ‘This was a failure of policy, management, capability, and above all, a failure of imagination.’
      • ‘I didn't realise then that that was merely a failure of imagination.’
      • ‘Incapacity to do this signals a failure of the imagination and/or basic knowledge of the ground-level details.’
      • ‘In the end, the panel blames institutions, not individuals for failures primarily of imagination.’
      • ‘To use something once and then toss it onto the rubbish heap is not just an act of profligacy, it is also represents a failure of the collective imagination.’
      • ‘I was watching a space programme about the reason why one of the missions failed in the 60s and they called it a failure of imagination.’
  • 3The action or state of not functioning:

    ‘symptoms of heart failure’
    [count noun] ‘a chance engine failure’
    • ‘The concern about engine failure can only be understood by pilots who have flown long distances over water in an airplane with one engine.’
    • ‘Ian Grant has suffered total renal failure and now requires dialysis three times a week.’
    • ‘He told the jury he had battled to keep the Lynx helicopter under control after it had suffered engine failure.’
    • ‘Air crash investigators said engine failure may have been one of the factors to blame for the tragedy that unfolded near Hemingbrough.’
    • ‘Cost will be an issue, as the procedure will also plan for hardware failure requiring redundancy of actual computers etc.’
    • ‘A key problem in many patients with respiratory failure requiring intubation is fatigue of respiratory muscles.’
    • ‘Kidney failure occurs when kidney function deteriorates to such an extent that death will occur without renal replacement therapy such as haemodialysis.’
    • ‘It is also necessary to exclude reversible causes of failure of brain function, including depressant drugs and hypothermia.’
    • ‘Five per cent end up with progressive chronic disease and are likely to develop end stage liver failure requiring transplants.’
    • ‘All 4 experienced muscular weakness and respiratory failure that required intubation.’
    • ‘Her respiratory failure requiring intubation was due to bilateral obstructing broncholiths.’
    • ‘The damage can lead to poor liver function and liver failure.’
    • ‘Last year his appendix burst and this, doctors believe, is what led to him suffering acute kidney failure, which required more emergency surgery.’
    • ‘These events will typically be copier parts that have failed, leading to the effect of a copier function failure.’
    • ‘If the General Electric-made engines can be recovered reasonably intact it might be possible to determine if there had been some form of engine failure.’
    • ‘In view of the role played by aneuploidy in carcinogenesis and in human reproductive failure, this omission is perhaps surprising.’
    • ‘He exposed them to great danger, sending them off in overcrowded and unseaworthy boats that experienced engine failure, or sank.’
    • ‘The 30 ft vessel, Brilliant, with two people on board, suffered engine failure around 7pm on Sunday.’
    • ‘Many more develop acute respiratory failure and require mechanical ventilation.’
    • ‘This is important for patients with impaired kidney function or liver failure who cannot clear the extra ammonia.’
    breaking down, breakdown, non-function, cutting out, seizing up
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1[count noun] A sudden cessation of power:
      ‘a sudden power failure’
      • ‘However, this meant there was temporary overloading on other supply sources, causing power failures in various parts of the town.’
      • ‘The move follows two power failures in 1999 when patients on life support machines had to be ventilated manually because of the failure of an emergency generator.’
      • ‘If you want to know all about great power failures, this website will tell you absolutely everything about them.’
      • ‘Strikes, accidents, weather, power failures - does it really matter why the trains aren't running?’
      • ‘Scattered power failures affecting an estimated 137,000 utility customers were reported across the coast as the wind and rain increased.’
      • ‘Britain could face huge power failures this winter unless consumers pay more for electricity, a top Government energy adviser warned yesterday.’
      • ‘The power failures are due to the damage of our line at our Yatton Keynell sub station.’
      • ‘Frequent electrical power failures and cuts were causing much concern and expense to industry, the meeting heard.’
      • ‘She is leading a team of researchers who are trying to prevent future power failures by making energy-sucking office buildings ultra-efficient at peak hours.’
      • ‘‘Power failures are averaging out to two to three hours a day at a stretch,’ explains his friend, a Faisal Town resident.’
      • ‘Our reliance on such machinery was previously highlighted two years ago, when the hospital's theatres and intensive care unit were hit by power failures.’
      • ‘The emergency powerhouse has been fired up to check the entire system, as a power failure in mid winter would be absolutely no fun at all.’
      • ‘It was doubtful whether the serious traveller bothered himself too much about such things as power failures, which were part of life and can happen anywhere.’
      • ‘Four power failures were reported on January 2, 10, 11 and 13, following at least 16 separate incidences last year.’
      • ‘The most common type of case involved tenants asking for rent reductions due to overdue repairs, but complaints ranged from gaping holes in the walls and power failures to mushrooms and rats.’
      • ‘The storms hit Enniscorthy and New Ross in Wexford first yesterday at about 7am, causing power failures there until about 10.30 am.’
      • ‘We already have a 24-hour service to repair any power failures in the 11-kv line.’
      • ‘I suggest it's time to investigate various aircraft accidents, power failures, and claims of abductions with the realization that UFOs are real.’
      • ‘During any sudden power failure, the system automatically switches to regular electricity.’
      • ‘Power failures have been a recurring problem in Braintree and its surrounding villages, particularly in Great Notley, Black Notley and Rayne.’
      breaking down, breakdown, non-function, cutting out, seizing up
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2[count noun] The collapse of a business:
      ‘business failures rose by 53%’
      • ‘While you may trust your own children, should they get divorced or be subject to a business failure, your home could be deemed part of their assets and given to another.’
      • ‘This coincides with rising or record levels of poverty, homelessness, job insecurity, personal bankruptcies and small business failures.’
      • ‘Are we going to see more closures or failures in the ISP business?’
      • ‘And more business headlines reveal company failures, wobbly financial markets and the impact of all this on workers' pension plans.’
      • ‘Some of his business failures were as spectacular as his lavish lifestyle, which was legendary.’
      • ‘In four years small business failures have trebled.’
      • ‘Many personal bankruptcies are related to small business failures because business loans are often secured over personal assets.’
      • ‘Transfer tax consequences, forced liquidation and business failures are among the dismal results of poor succession planning.’
      • ‘The incidence of business failures provides a vivid reminder of how fundamentally corporate activity affects the lives and livelihoods of people and communities worldwide.’
      • ‘The Americans believe that in business, failures are inevitable.’
      • ‘This has led to a worldwide assault on auto workers' jobs, as well as business failures, including the bankruptcy announcement earlier this month by Daewoo Motors of South Korea.’
      • ‘It was one of the most high profile Scottish business failures of recent years and left millions owing to creditors.’
      • ‘Business failures in the area have bucked the national trend by falling.’
      • ‘Business failures in the North-west increased by 10.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.’
      • ‘However, we also recognise that these extra resources will not go far enough to solve the problems and prevent more business failures and bed blocking.’
      • ‘There will always be business failures, some of them inevitable disappointments and some shocking in their unpredictably, but corporate Scotland as a whole should not get unduly depressed.’
      • ‘Mass employment and low interest rates, shortages, quotas and regulations were the staples of the British economy in the late 1940s and business failures were few.’
      • ‘There'll indeed be plenty of business failures, including some weird ones that nobody saw coming.’
      • ‘When the Great Depression came in 1929 and business failures became the order of the day Holt, like everyone else, was placed under tremendous pressure.’
      • ‘He added that, with 17 outdoor shops in the town and a number of recent failures of similar businesses, the new shop may not be viable and could also fall into disrepair.’
      collapse, crash, going under, bankruptcy, insolvency, liquidation, close-down, closure, closing, shutting down, winding up, termination
      View synonyms


Mid 17th century (originally as failer, in the senses ‘non-occurrence’ and ‘cessation of supply’): from Anglo-Norman French failer for Old French faillir (see fail).