Main definitions of fair in English

: fair1fair2fair3



  • 1Treating people equally without favouritism or discrimination.

    ‘the group has achieved fair and equal representation for all its members’
    ‘a fairer distribution of wealth’
    • ‘Everyone has the means to gain knowledge of the law, which in turn makes legal systems more fair.’
    • ‘He said the company's internal disciplinary hearings procedure have been found by the Labour Court to be fair and proper.’
    • ‘It is also just fair to agree that Government has provided a free atmosphere that has laid a good groundwork to a free and fair election.’
    • ‘It is impossible, with the best of wills to conduct free and fair elections under occupation with a war of attrition taking place between rebels and occupiers.’
    • ‘In addition, they should continue calls for a political settlement that reflects the results of the free and fair elections held in 1990.’
    • ‘Lawyers will claim that the system is so corrupt that it breaches obligations under the European convention on human rights to hold free and fair elections.’
    • ‘Perhaps it is true that scientific opinion polls are inappropriate for a society that has never known free and fair elections before.’
    • ‘Free and fair elections also include a well-informed electorate.’
    • ‘It's a very, very difficult task to setup a democratic and free and fair society out of the ashes of that dictatorship.’
    • ‘Was this a free and fair election to the best of your information?’
    • ‘He won the first free and fair election in the country's history with 67 percent of the vote.’
    • ‘But how do you have free and fair elections under an occupation, under a foreign occupation?’
    • ‘The role of government is to provide everyone with a fair chance to pursue success.’
    • ‘Free and fair elections look a near impossibility.’
    • ‘They will give the judge a scrupulously fair trial.’
    • ‘The EC announced elections to be held now on December 10 after it was satisfied that now free and fair elections can be held.’
    • ‘‘This shows that left alone, they can conduct free and fair elections,’ said Odinga.’
    • ‘The parliamentary election last May was recognized as generally fair by international observers.’
    • ‘It is good to see that once more, our courtrooms will return to normalcy, discharging justice to the nation in a free and fair manner.’
    • ‘It has no independent political parties, no free and fair elections, and no independent news media.’
    just, equitable, fair-minded, open-minded, honest, upright, honourable, trustworthy
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Just or appropriate in the circumstances.
      ‘to be fair, this subject poses special problems’
      ‘it's not fair to take it out on her’
      • ‘To be fair, Stork's reasoning has a certain justification.’
      • ‘She said she wanted to be fair but also avoid litigation.’
      • ‘I have tried to be fair, reasonable and upfront with information.’
      • ‘Now to be fair to therapists, I don't know whether my therapist Linda was a bad one, or if she was just fine and just not the right one for me.’
      • ‘To be fair, the reason for the outage is likely to have been something beyond their control.’
      • ‘To be fair, civilians often underestimate the stress that military service places on one's personal life.’
      • ‘Demand for the service is growing fast - although, to be fair, not all brands would find the medium suitable.’
      • ‘They would need to be fair and reasonable, and the fees would need to provide the board with adequate funding.’
      • ‘She deserves a fair hearing judged upon her own merits, capacities and contributions.’
      • ‘The judges said they found the commission's decision to be fair and reasonable.’
      • ‘To be fair, we did get some halfway reasonable coverage afterwards.’
      • ‘The law governing shoppers' rights requires consumers to be fair and reasonable in their expectations.’
      • ‘To be fair, Lloyd-Jones certainly recognised that there was merit in such a procedure.’
      • ‘There are a set of rules that the Congress and the department have worked out over years that are assumed to be fair and reasonable.’
      • ‘So we thought it would be eminently fair to compare the performance of the two drives.’
      • ‘However, he wants to be fair to you and for that reason wishes to set up a mechanism whereby repayment of your investment can be effected.’
      • ‘In determining wages, salaries and perks, especially in a time of plenty, Government must not only be fair, but it must be seen to be fair.’
      • ‘I have generally found the vast majority to be fair and reasonable, and far from hostile.’
      • ‘To be fair, there is a practical reason for placing the sketch at the end.’
    2. 1.2archaic (of a means or procedure) not violent.
      ‘try first by fair means’
  • 2(of hair or complexion) light; blonde.

    ‘a pretty girl with long fair hair’
    • ‘Berry shades for example suit olive skins, while reds with pinkish undertones work best on those with fair complexions and fair hair.’
    • ‘Glancing up she quickly scanned the merry faces, looking for one with light skin and fair hair.’
    • ‘His short black hair matched the jacket and provided a contrast to his fair complexion.’
    • ‘More procedures may be required for advanced baldness or for individuals with very dark hair and fair complexion.’
    • ‘She had waist length brown hair, with hazel eyes, high cheekbones and a fair complexion.’
    • ‘Her hair was fair, and lay in a knot of yellow behind her head.’
    • ‘He was short and thin, with fair hair and a light sprinkle of freckles on his nose.’
    • ‘He is described as being medium build with a fair complexion and light brown hair.’
    • ‘Coren pointed to the tallest guy, who had very fair skin, platinum blonde hair, and very dark black eyes.’
    • ‘All I can make out is that she has black hair and eyes, a fair complexion, and a very bad temper.’
    • ‘She was pretty, with blonde hair and fair skin, but her eyes seemed distant, if worried.’
    • ‘The second person, a female with long blonde hair and fair skin, walked up to the middle podium.’
    • ‘The morning sunlight cast golden shades on her father's fair hair, picking out the silvering strands.’
    • ‘For blondes, chamomile can lighten fair hair when used as a rinse.’
    • ‘Finally, bold colors tend to be unflattering on men with fair hair and light skin.’
    • ‘The suspect is said to be in his 50s, has a light complexion and fair hair and weighs about 185 pounds.’
    • ‘Morgan and Basil were both under the light, their fair hair standing out like beacons in a fog.’
    • ‘He was distracted momentarily by the way the light played off her fair skin and golden hair.’
    • ‘The male is white, in his 20s, 5ft 4in tall, with fair hair and a pale complexion.’
    • ‘She had long blonde hair and fair skin that looked as if it had never been in the sun.’
    blond, blonde, yellow, yellowish, golden, flaxen, light, light brown, light-coloured, strawberry blonde, tow-coloured, platinum, ash blonde, bleached, bleached-blonde, sun-bleached, peroxide, bottle-blonde
    pale, light, light-coloured, white, cream-coloured, creamy, peaches and cream
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (of a person) having a light complexion or hair.
      ‘he's very fair with blue eyes’
      • ‘The darker your skin, the more likely you are to see changes; if you're very fair or have red hair you may not notice any at all.’
      • ‘Jessica is tanned and has shoulder-length brown hair while Holly is fair and has blonde hair.’
      • ‘He was a skinny, fair boy with hair as light as sunshine and eyes as blue as the sky itself.’
      • ‘The fair women seem to have a layer of light hiding beneath their skin.’
      • ‘She was fair, had long hair and had all the makings of a performer.’
      • ‘At Singhpora, as I sat in the booth, a tall, fair young man entered, got himself ink-marked but begged not to be forced to vote.’
      • ‘Among them was a young princess, Lavena, the fair daughter of King Edward Longshanks.’
  • 3Considerable though not outstanding in size or amount.

    ‘he did a fair bit of coaching’
    • ‘I did it very quickly, though I'd given a fair amount of consideration to each award in the recent weeks.’
    • ‘The big peat shed still has a fair amount of peat and a good bit of other rubbish in it including an old moped!’
    • ‘As a student, I did a fair amount of acting with the university dramatic society.’
    • ‘One room looked a bit like ballroom only much smaller - a fair amount of faux glitz on the walls, a decent amount of light and a trestle-tabled bar on one wall.’
    • ‘I get a fair amount of spam that is clearly illegal already under the rules governing fraud.’
    • ‘That's when somebody noticed that Bayer was getting a fair amount of mention in the national press, albeit in the sports pages.’
    • ‘The good news is that with a little bit of cash, a lot of imagination and a fair amount of hard work you can transform your bathroom into a room of which you can be proud.’
    • ‘Alissa's dad thinks that's a fair amount that will teach her to be a bit more careful.’
    • ‘There is a fair amount of speckling, a bit of debris, and some grain in evidence, but no edge effects.’
    • ‘Tracking down other dead notables often took a fair amount of detective work.’
    • ‘She looked up at him, seeing as he was a fair amount taller than her, and smirked a bit.’
    • ‘‘We did a fair amount of walking and I really noticed the difference in my fitness,’ he says.’
    • ‘I wrote quite a bit, and I took a fair amount of pictures, some of which I've shown, and some of which have been published in different places.’
    • ‘He is giving the matter a fair amount of considerable and is at that ‘in between’ situation at the moment.’
    • ‘To get a solid image, it's important to have a fair amount of paint on the stamp.’
    • ‘Obviously, that would have taken a fair bit of time and a lot of consideration.’
    • ‘As one who's had to read a fair number of toddler books over the past years, I'll always have a soft spot for this one.’
    • ‘A little bit of a friendly debate went on for a fair amount of time.’
    • ‘They performed a few jumps, flips and a fair amount of swimming, just visible to the naked eye.’
    • ‘Colors are a bit faded, the image is a bit soft, and there is a fair amount of grain from the source elements.’
    reasonable, passable, tolerable, satisfactory, acceptable, respectable, decent, all right, good enough, goodish, pretty good, not bad, moderate, average, middling, ample, adequate, sufficient
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 Moderately good.
      ‘he believes he has a fair chance of success’
      • ‘The feeling was that we would have a fair chance of funding for this sort of thing.’
      • ‘Everybody should have a fair chance and succeed or fail at it.’
      • ‘But since he's a very healthy man and is very young, the chances are fair to good, I would say.’
      • ‘Children born in one of the industrialized countries have a fair chance of reaching an average 78 years of age.’
      • ‘That means the rich don't get obscenely wealthy and the poor have a fair chance of good health, reasonable housing and a decent education.’
      • ‘There's a fair chance they will have been air-freighted in from Africa or South America, at an unsustainable cost to the environment.’
      • ‘Knowing the state of the rails, though, it'll only take half an inch to stop the trains from running, so the chances are fair to good, I'd say.’
      • ‘Where plants have been flooded or forced to stand for many days in waterlogged soil, there is a fair chance that some root damage will have resulted.’
      • ‘Acting opposite Ashmit Patel, another newcomer, the movie gives them both a fair chance to show off their skills.’
      • ‘This situation would apply at least until the end of 2006 and it seems to have a fair chance of acceptance and implementation.’
      • ‘UK ministers regard the bid as standing a fair chance of success and believe that it will prove popular with the public.’
      • ‘If school choice is given a fair chance, its success or failure should be determined by results.’
      • ‘If they can be, and the product is well marketed, then there is a fair chance of success.’
      • ‘That would be a great achievement, and one at which I have a fair chance of success.’
      • ‘When there is a fair chance of getting away with these minor misdemeanors without punishment there will be not deterrence.’
      • ‘I wanted to give the film a fair chance and I didn't feel like my opinions would be valid if I left before the end.’
      • ‘Another was listed in serious condition and the third was in fair condition, both at the Lakeview Medical Centre.’
      • ‘I think that there is here an argument, with a fair chance of success, that the claim here is different.’
      • ‘Yes, I accept that, but the test really is whether the appellant lost a fair chance of acquittal reasonably open to him.’
      • ‘As there was nobody else about, there was a fair chance he was also waiting for the minibus to take us to one of Ecuador's many splendid lagunas.’
      reasonable, passable, tolerable, satisfactory, acceptable, respectable, decent, all right, good enough, goodish, pretty good, not bad, moderate, average, middling, ample, adequate, sufficient
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2NZ, Australian informal Complete; utter.
      ‘this cow is a fair swine’
      • ‘The fair fool Noel has taken a week-long fancy to me, and I am making an age-long fool of him.’
  • 4(of weather) fine and dry.

    ‘a fair autumn day’
    • ‘In fair weather, she could quite happily sit for hours amongst her flowers.’
    • ‘It's not like I'm a fair weather fan whose team is losing so she gives up.’
    • ‘She has been practising voraciously over the winter, and is determined to nail once and for all any accusation that she is a fair weather golfer.’
    • ‘During fair weather they frequently roost in hardwood knolls and the edges of hillside benches.’
    • ‘Perhaps it's the fair weather and calm conditions which had undermined the Scottish contingent's tilt at the title.’
    • ‘The sun is out and the fair weather bench-lunchers come out from out of their rocks.’
    • ‘Conversely, road rage is most likely to occur on Friday afternoons, in peak travel times and in fair weather.’
    • ‘The work was said to be subject to fair weather conditions, in which case it would be carried out as soon as possible.’
    • ‘You can forget all the cliches about fair weather and sunny days ahead for the founders of Intrallect.’
    • ‘As much as night can seem black and choking in an isolated room up high, it was almost non-existent when the weather was fair.’
    • ‘Time is precious as olives can only harvest in fair weather, so everybody is allocated a job.’
    • ‘York's tour buses trundle around their circuit come fair weather or foul.’
    • ‘But Muriel, 65, always a keen walker, does not only step out in fair weather.’
    • ‘For that matter even on fair weather days it is hard to safely occupy two small children.’
    • ‘Johan Stander, a weather forecaster at the Cape Town weather office, said fair weather was expected until Thursday.’
    • ‘If the weather is fair, she sits outside, often with her legs dangling over the precipice, the spyglass propped between her knees.’
    • ‘After all, the months of May to August have a reasonable chance of being fair.’
    • ‘With fair weather, members of the public attending were able to sample and buy produce grown by the allotment tenants.’
    • ‘Only fair weather and a buggy could tempt me, and, if a little food was involved, I think I could find a round of golf quite agreeable.’
    • ‘As the work progressed, Marsh stalked its perimeter in fair weather or surveyed the site from the comfort of a warm room when it was raining or snowing.’
    fine, dry, bright, clear, sunny, sunshiny, sunlit, cloudless, without a cloud in the sky
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1 (of the wind) favourable.
      ‘they set sail with a fair wind’
      • ‘Still, advance bookings are running high: Scots do tend to give new routes a fair wind.’
      • ‘Inevitably, in these conditions, the impetus to politics, given a fair wind, was bound to grow.’
      • ‘There was a fair wind blowing now and the snow was starting to come down again.’
      • ‘Anecdotally, the former journalist and television presenter has a fair wind behind her.’
      • ‘The ship had caught a swift moving current and a fair breeze in her sail, carrying them towards the open seas at a ripping pace.’
      • ‘I wish it fair wind and every success on its journey - the project and the people deserve it, Bishop Murphy said.’
      • ‘Given a fair wind, some analysts believe the shares could make it to €12.’
      • ‘The fair wind shows the watchmen on the walls a black fleet coming up the river.’
      • ‘All sides hope it can get a fair wind and bring an end to the stop-start episodes.’
      • ‘As both relied on fair winds for their ocean travels, the bird was welcomed as a kindred spirit.’
      • ‘A fair wind and dry conditions led to some very good scoring at the unusually quiet Green Valley layout.’
      • ‘That's true even if the forecast is for sunny skies and fair winds.’
      • ‘Such a fresh start might just be the fair wind and favourable sea for which I seem to be waiting.’
      • ‘My understanding is that with a fair wind behind him he may get a slightly bigger budget next time.’
      • ‘It was a beautiful evening, with fair winds, tranquility, a pleasant picture of a family and delicacies on the plate in front of me!’
      • ‘May a fair wind ever find you and ease the burdens of your day.’
      • ‘However, for the most part, the acrimony was abandoned at the side of the road and business proceeded with a fair wind.’
      • ‘When it came to rounding up cattle, it was often said that you needed three things: a good man, a good horse and a fair wind.’
      favourable, advantageous, helpful, benign, beneficial
      View synonyms
  • 5archaic Beautiful.

    ‘the fairest of her daughters’
    • ‘Its silver reflection lay delicately on the calm, deep blue water, like the shimmering gown of a fair lady.’
    • ‘Tall, beautiful, fair, his appearance was greeted with a low hum of admiration and anxiety.’
    • ‘It gave a beautiful song in its fair voice, but in the middle of its song, it suddenly stopped.’
    • ‘Always one of the festival's more popular events, people can catch up with all the fair ladies at the various events over the coming days.’
    • ‘Elves were once known, even by humans, to be a fair and beautiful race of species.’
    1. 5.1 (of words) specious despite being initially attractive.
      ‘the Sophists have plenty of brave words and fair devices’
      • ‘After a month of fair words Artois came away in April 1793 with a jewelled sword inscribed With God, for the King but no more tangible support.’
      • ‘Titania was stunned by the fair words that graced the paper, but she couldn't for the life of her figure out who wrote it.’


  • 1Without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage.

    ‘no one could say he played fair’
    • ‘I hate to put it that way, but in my book, you ought to go out there to play to win, but you ought to play fair, you have to play by the rules, and these are things you should learn as a kid.’
    • ‘With his trusty horse Trigger, Rogers played the straight-shooting good guy who always fought fair - instead of killing the bad guys, he would shoot the gun out of their hands - and always lived to sing about it.’
  • 2dialect as submodifier To a high degree.

    ‘she'll be fair delighted to see you’
    • ‘As you may imagine she was fair delighted, and thought how pleased the King would be when he came home and found that his dearest wish had been fulfilled.’
    • ‘I'm fair tuckered out with the excitement of it all.’


  • A beautiful woman.

    ‘pursuing his fair in a solitary street’


[NO OBJECT]dialect
  • (of the weather) become fine.

    ‘looks like it's fairing off some’
    • ‘John Bowes, Mayor of Kirkbymoorside, said: ‘The weather faired up and the parade and service were both excellent.’’
    • ‘Highland Council engineers responded to the disaster with alacrity and, as soon as the weather faired, had a team of divers on the scene to check that nothing dangerous to shipping lay beneath the water.’
    • ‘The weather faired, and our general caused our great pinnace to be made ready, and to row along the coast,’


  • all's fair in love and war

    • proverb In certain highly charged situations, any method of achieving your objective is justifiable.

      • ‘‘I really shouldn't like him since I know Pheobe kind of does,’ Treena thought to herself. ‘But as they say, all's fair in love and war.’’
      • ‘Well, Larry, I've got to tell you something, as far as what happens in a courtroom, it's basically all's fair in love and war.’
      • ‘I suppose all's fair in love and war then, huh?’
      • ‘You know, all's fair in love and war, as they say.’
      • ‘With reference to your heading for Brian Munn's letter ‘Unfair attack on hunting fraternity’ - all's fair in love and war.’
      • ‘They say all's fair in love and war, but what about contracts?’
      • ‘‘We're at the point now where all's fair in love and war, and politics is war,’ said Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia.’
      • ‘‘Sorry, honey,’ Kyle remarked, ‘but all's fair in love and war.’’
      • ‘From Cole's perspective, all's fair in love and war, and collecting art was war.’
      • ‘I want her back and am currently waging a war of emotions on her to convince her of my true love for her (Hey, all's fair in love and war.)’
  • by fair means or foul

    • humorous, literary Using whatever means are necessary.

      ‘they were determined to win, by fair means or foul’
      • ‘Their aim is to divide and conquer by fair means or foul.’
      • ‘If you don't want to be left behind, you should immediately go out and acquire, by fair means or foul, this piece of work.’
      • ‘And the higher you've climbed up the greasy pole, by fair means or foul, the further you have to fall.’
      • ‘The script begins with the internal voice of Standish declaring: ‘I made up my mind there and then that I had to have her whether she was free or not, with or without her consent, by fair means or foul.’’
      • ‘They are in competition with each other, trying to capture the ‘emerging markets' of developing nations by fair means or foul.’
      • ‘The key question facing the country now is this: will the existing regime allow this process of democratisation to gather momentum, or will it seek to arrest its development and entrench itself in power by fair means or foul?’
      • ‘At the crack of dawn, my over-excitable mother used to wake the household on Christmas morning, and by fair means or foul, persuade us to get up and go downstairs to ‘see if he has been’.’
      • ‘Here, of course, was a classic case of Machiavellian politics: the attempt to bend the will of the party to his view by fair means or foul.’
      • ‘As long as he gets his man - by fair means or foul - Sgt Eldon Perry reckons anything goes in order to maintain law and order.’
      • ‘Previously there was the report of the former warden who told of targets and quotas which had to be achieved by fair means or foul.’
  • fair and square

    • 1With absolute accuracy.

      ‘he got you fair and square in his gunsight’
    • 2Honestly and straightforwardly.

      ‘we won the match fair and square’
      • ‘They basically say the president campaigned on that notion and he won the election fair and square, it's time for him to move the high court to the right.’
      • ‘The last match I lost fair and square but I was a little disappointed with the first one’
      • ‘We want to win races fair and square, not to have - having them be stolen.’
      • ‘Although it was a close fight, Ali won it fair and square 7-5 in rounds.’
      • ‘Of course I realised and I started telling everybody I lost the match fair and square, no excuses.’
      • ‘I'm sure we'll win fair and square later on without having to do anything to upset him.’
      • ‘I believe that I won this medal fair and square, and that the horse has not been given anything that would make him jump better.’
      • ‘We won fair and square, and we're going to win fair and square again.’
      • ‘I love to win, but I want to win fair and square too.’
      • ‘We won that fight fair and square, but you had to be a poor sport say we lost when you yourself was dumped on your backside!’
      honestly, fairly, without cheating, without foul play, by the book, according to the rules, in accordance with the rules
      View synonyms
  • fair comment

    • 1A comment or criticism made without malicious intent and based on accurate information or observation.

      ‘his statement is a fair comment based on observation’
      ‘He notes that the definition changed in the second and subsequent editions. Fair comment’
      • ‘Under the European Court of Human Right's case law a value judgment must be based on sufficient facts in order to constitute a fair comment under Article 10.’
      • ‘That's a fair comment, but one which needs closer consideration.’
      • ‘I don't think that's a fair comment to make.’
      • ‘Fair comments or criticism on the facts and thoughts mentioned therein are most welcome.’
      • ‘I think that's a fair comment on my governance style across the board.’
      • ‘That is a fair comment, yet he gets bowled for telling the truth.’
      • ‘This is a very fair comment on the style of British statistics during this period.’
      • ‘It was a fair comment that some smaller companies were looking to serviced offices as a short term solution while they waited to see what happens in the market.’
      • ‘She gave very fair comment on the noise and pollution we have at this intersection.’
      • ‘His main argument was to do with the difficulties in scheduling cases and that is a fair comment.’
      1. 1.1The right to make a comment or criticism without malicious intent if it is based on accurate information.
        ‘his defence pleads justification and fair comment’
        • ‘Earlier last week, the judge ruled the newspaper could not rely on its defence of justification and fair comment.’
        • ‘In actions against the defendant for libel, he pleaded justification, fair comment on a matter of public interest, and qualified privilege.’
        • ‘Fair comment does not provide an escape route in all circumstances.’
        • ‘It is more important that the law is not subverted by those who want to limit the field of free speech and fair comment.’
        • ‘If the defendant contends that any of the words or matters are fair comment on a matter of public interest, the claimant must serve a reply giving details of the facts or matters relied on.’
        • ‘Where to draw the line in comedy and how to differentiate between fair comment and causing offence is always tricky.’
        • ‘Britain's highest court is considering what should qualify as "fair comment" after a band brought a libel action against its former agent for remarks made on his website.’
        • ‘Fair comment is allowed on matters of public interest.’
        • ‘He was also hauled before a public hearing in February, in which he repeatedly defended the controversial remarks as fair comment.’
        • ‘Any matter which does not indicate with reasonable clearness but purports to be comment and not statement of fact, cannot be protected by the plea of fair comment.’
        • ‘The newspaper does not necessarily support the views of its columnists but we do support their right to freedom of speech as long as the content is fair comment and stays within legal boundaries.’
  • a fair cow

    • informal A particularly unpleasant or difficult situation or thing.

      ‘this heat's a fair cow’
      • ‘Two of the quarries were in fair situations but the third was a fair cow.’
      • ‘"A fair cow, mate. Never been so embarrassed in my life."’
      • ‘Bruce was right; this country's a fair cow!’
      • ‘This is a fair cow of a day—with a violent dust-storm, flies, and heat.’
      • ‘It will be a fair cow if he tracks us down up here.’
      source of annoyance, source of irritation, annoyance, inconvenience, bore, bother, irritant, problem, difficulty, trouble, trial, burden
      View synonyms
  • a fair deal

    • Equitable treatment.

      ‘you will always get a fair deal when you book with us’
      • ‘‘We don't have the resources to do major promotional campaigns but we do go with a fair deal to our customers,’ he says.’
      • ‘He was a well known figure in the cattle trade, often travelling the length and breath of the country and he always ensured everybody got a fair deal.’
      • ‘He vowed to continue to fight for a fair deal for all.’
      • ‘Are they not entitled to a fair deal, a good education and equality of opportunity?’
      • ‘If our society is committed to giving patients with rare diseases a fair deal, primary care trusts must make funds available for treatment.’
      • ‘They met last Friday to begin a new campaign in the county which demands a fair deal for carers, with recognition of their work and proper support.’
      • ‘If I am elected I will be pushing as hard as I can to get a fair deal for local people on local health issues.’
      • ‘Mystery shoppers are to visit a random selection of the 2,500 garages in Yorkshire and Humberside to check customers are getting a fair deal.’
      • ‘We have also heard from postmasters who were involved in the programme - my committee therefore pledged to do all it could to secure a fair deal for all involved.’
      • ‘We are confident that our staff, most of whom do not want to strike, will recognise this as a fair deal.’
  • fair dos

    • informal Used to request just treatment or accept that it has been given.

      ‘Fair dos—you don't believe I've been idle all this time?’
      • ‘If Will and Trond can attract tourism into the Borders by doing this then fair dos.’
      • ‘Bookies don't normally like to pay out, but fair dos to him.’
      • ‘However, in fair dos to the man, he sorted out New Zealand Rail and made it efficient for 1 year, and he made it available to -’
  • fair enough

    • informal Used to admit that something is reasonable or acceptable.

      ‘‘I can't come because I'm working late.’ ‘Fair enough.’’
      • ‘Banning smoking in restaurants is fair enough - in fact such a ban is pretty much in place.’
      • ‘This is a fair enough definition, but it is salutary, I believe, to consider the implications.’
      • ‘She said no, of course, which is fair enough, but it was her reaction that upset me the most.’
      • ‘If it was the result of a comprehensive review and recommendation of how to fix something broken then fair enough.’
      • ‘If there is a good reason to ban something then fair enough but that reasoning has to be applied to everything equally.’
      • ‘Now that's fair enough, because a lot of people don't know enough about it to make the decision.’
      • ‘I'm still a bit mad, and that's fair enough, but I'm not as uptight, maybe, as I was before.’
      • ‘You know, it's fair enough not to share your cigarettes with a stranger, but this response seemed excessive.’
      • ‘If you love her and want to be with her, but are, say, ideologically opposed to marriage, then fair enough.’
      • ‘It wasn't the only raised eyebrow in an otherwise excellent evening, but fair enough, she did offer to go and find out.’
  • fair go

    • informal Used for emphasis or to request someone to be reasonable or fair.

      ‘Fair go! How can I ask a thing like that?’
      • ‘And what's a fair go, for the benefit of those who voted liberal?’
      • ‘This irks most Australians, who believe in a fair go for all.’
      • ‘I would strongly encourage people to come into my office or call for a copy to join the state-wide push for a fair go for country cancer patients.’
      • ‘It would have trumpeted its belief that no matter who you are or where you come from, it is fundamental to the Australian ethos that each child gets a fair go.’
      • ‘There is no doubt as to which gives everyone a fair go.’
      • ‘We believe in opportunity and in giving everyone a fair go.’
      • ‘Anyway, now as an international student at Vic, I want to make sure that international students have a fair go at student life.’
      • ‘Mr Edwards said inviting small business owners and managers to contribute to policy-making would ensure they get a fair go.’
      • ‘We call for the new Government to restore Australia's standing as a nation that is compassionate to those in need and committed to a fair go for all.’
      • ‘Importantly, both sides will get a fair go on Sunday night.’
  • fair name

    • dated A good reputation.

      ‘the fair name of the squadron’
      • ‘But alas, I haven't a penny to my fair name - at least not after my next few purchases.’
      • ‘Mrs Tearle, a former town mayor and ex-chairman of Braintree District Council, called it a slur on the fair name of Witham at a time when she and the council were trying to raise its profile.’
      • ‘Their conduct has been a blot on the fair name of the country.’
      • ‘I am writing to express my concern that the fair name of Shepperton is about to be libelled in the most scurrilous fashion.’
      • ‘They have disgraced the fair name of secularism.’
  • the fair (or fairer) sex

    • dated, humorous Women.

      • ‘But the women in neighbouring Cork are the highest-spending members of the fairer sex, with their average shopping bill coming to €780.’
      • ‘Not so many years ago, the participation of the fairer sex in athletics was frowned upon and viewed as being ‘unladylike’.’
      • ‘The news agent racks that are crammed with women's lifestyles magazines may not appear to have room for any more titles targeted at the fairer sex.’
      • ‘Of course, when I was a college-aged lad, I was under the misguided impression that dressing like a lumberjack and going months without a haircut was the secret to wooing the fairer sex.’
      • ‘The managing committee should have at least two members of the fairer sex, so bequeathed Lady R.C. Bristow, which norm is observed even today, after more than 70 years.’
      • ‘After scoring two number one hits with cultural songs, singer Natty King is once again on the hit trail, this time with Love Me, a love ode to the fairer sex.’
      • ‘But the controversy in no way affected his following, particularly among the fairer sex.’
      • ‘Last year's inaugural ladies football tournament generated huge interest in the area and also brought to light some fine footballing talent among the fairer sex.’
      • ‘The reason Fiona stays involved in boxing, despite being the sole representative of the fairer sex, is that she loves it.’
      • ‘In order to applaud the efforts of women film directors from the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia and Hungary, this year's film festival has been dedicated to the fairer sex.’
  • fair's fair

    • informal Used to request just treatment or assert that a situation is just.

      ‘Fair's fair—we were here first’
      • ‘After all, fair's fair, and I can't believe they have the audacity to require their players to have certain skills and abilities.’
      • ‘So fair's fair, if it's so hard for me why should it be so easy for you?’
      • ‘Sitting under a tree with a bunch of women in Kenya, for instance, Maticka-Tyndale decided fair's fair, and let the local women ask her a few questions for a change.’
      • ‘Not because I'm greedy; fair's fair, and he certainly earns half of it.’
      • ‘But fair's fair: Henry showed that humour can indeed be more effective than invective.’
      • ‘But fair's fair, it was still a respectable time given his bulky size and he had apparently had a busy day, including a rowing session and a long walk.’
      • ‘I think fair's fair if one parent is a native of the country in question.’
      • ‘I have to say I thought this was funny, but fair's fair.’
      • ‘And if he really does want a serious relationship, he'll find someone else eventually - which may be tough for you, but fair's fair: if you don't want him, let someone else have him.’
      • ‘The lamb kebab was delicious and each of us could happily have polished it off, but fair's fair and we split it in two.’
  • for fair

    • dated, informal Completely and finally.

      ‘I hope we'll be rid of him for fair’
      • ‘I seem to be putting my foot in it for fair," said the green marine, looking discouraged.’
      • ‘Henkels & McCoy has been in the high wire and hot wire business ever since 1935 and in 1938 we were in it for fair, though the 1938 job was foul enough for many of the people affected.’
  • in a fair way to do something

    • Likely to achieve something.

      ‘you are in a fair way to have cured yourself’
      • ‘According to The New York Times, Dringer had in less than a decade made customers of the local mill-owners and ‘claimed to be the most extensive junkdealer in the United States, and was in a fair way to control the market.’’
      • ‘Like so many European churches, St Jacob's is in a fair way to overwhelm me.’
  • no fair

    • informal Unfair (often used in or as a petulant protestation)

      ‘no fair—we're the only kids in the whole school who don't get to watch TV on school nights’
      • ‘I tilted my head on my hand, ‘Hey, no fair changing the subject.’’
      • ‘Nancy called, ‘Hey, no fair! ‘and tried to track him with the pistol while at the same time regaining her balance.’’
      • ‘Hey that's no fair, why do you have to be ordered around by you?’
      • ‘Now, it's no fair to say you're no Ted Koppel, but the interview sort of moved on.’
      • ‘Surely I won't surprise you by noting that those stereotypes are mean, misogynist, and no fair (if you need to keep your term paper short, try a literary survey of evil fathers-in-law).’
      • ‘Hey, no fair, I barely handled it for a minute!’
      • ‘Hey, no fair firing at me when I was trying to make a point to someone!’
      • ‘Please note that it is no fair to throw banana peels in hopes of playing the rescuing hero.’
      • ‘That's no fair, I was suppose to find them, NOT you two!’
      • ‘It's no fair talking to the mystery person if you're not going to share with the class, Regan.’
  • be set fair

    • (of the weather) be fine and likely to stay fine for a time.

      ‘the weather is set fair for this weekend's carnival’
      figurative ‘conditions were set fair for stable political and economic development’
      • ‘The course was generally in good condition and the day was set fair for a fine competition.’
      • ‘The weather is set fair for this weekend's Radcliffe carnival.’
      • ‘Anyway - must be positive - it's a nice day again and the weather forecast is set fair right through until after the weekend, so walking should be more of a pleasure than a chore.’


Old English fæger ‘pleasing, attractive’, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German fagar.




Main definitions of fair in English

: fair1fair2fair3



  • 1A gathering of stalls and amusements for public entertainment.

    ‘I won a goldfish at the fair’
    • ‘It was the culmination of a fun packed day with activities that included canal associated stalls, a craft fair, a pig roast and a display of canal craft.’
    • ‘Like the original 1969 Woodstock music and arts fair, Willistock will be unforgettable.’
    • ‘The streets and bars were packed as visitors wandered amongst the stalls, fairs and entertainers on the streets of Killorglin.’
    • ‘Some of the attractions offered at fairs and amusement parks have always been dangerous.’
    • ‘Many Marathas go to local festivals and fairs, and enjoy traditional folk entertainment.’
    • ‘Traditional entertainment may be part of religious fairs and festivals or provided by traveling bands of professional entertainers.’
    • ‘Most fairs provided entertainments but these remained only marginal until the major commercial changes of the 18th century.’
    • ‘The scouts hosted an autumn fair, complete with stalls and children's entertainers at the Orbital Retail Park in North Swindon.’
    • ‘Organisers of fêtes, horse fairs and similar public functions sometimes set up temporary quoits pitches in this way for decades and such games are often referred to as Sward Quoits.’
    • ‘It sounds good and if it does result in more properly-managed concerts, fairs, festivals and community events being staged in the city's parks it has to be good news.’
    • ‘Infected children may be excluded by the local authority from school, and from public places of entertainment and assembly such as fairs, swimming pools, cinemas, and skating rinks.’
    • ‘In villages, festivals and fairs are occasions for entertainment and relaxation.’
    • ‘Today, it is celebrated with street fairs, parties, picnics, and fireworks.’
    • ‘Ulverston welcomes the annual spring fair to town as of Wednesday when all the usual rides, fun and laughter will fill The Gill.’
    • ‘These men descend from the era - long before radio and television, cinemas and telephones - when itinerant narrators brought news and entertainment to country fairs and village squares.’
    • ‘Initially, she performed at festivals and fairs, but while on a writing trip to New York City she was talent-spotted and signed to Arista Records by the label's new boss, L. A. Reid.’
    • ‘But for children who choose to spend their holidays in their hometowns, fairs and carnivals can be good entertainment.’
    • ‘At higher levels, and with greater dexterity, stilts have been used as entertainment props since the fairs of the Middle Ages, and probably long before then.’
    • ‘The street will then be set up as a street fair, with food stalls, entertainment booths, exhibitions, and cultural shows.’
    • ‘The following weekend will see the procession on the Saturday before the crowds head for the Lawns to enjoy fairs, stalls and displays from local groups.’
    fete, gala, festival, carnival, funfair
    View synonyms
  • 2A periodic gathering for the sale of goods.

    • ‘The business is so well-known now in Christchurch that the supply of books brought in keeps him very busy, without his going to seek them at fairs or garage sales.’
    • ‘In the middle of last year I started making jam and selling it at car boot sales and craft fairs.’
    • ‘As auctioneers we are acutely aware of the potential problem this autumn when the traditional sheep sales and fairs have been a major outlet for breeders and store lamb producers.’
    • ‘That said, there are quicker ways to enter the collectable toy market, namely through auctions, toy fairs and car-boot sales.’
    • ‘Personal snapshots from abandoned family albums turn up in all kinds of places, ‘from postcard fairs, to jumble sales, and dingy halls beside arterial roads,’ as he puts it.’
    • ‘He expects this year's showcase to be affected by the weak dollar but predicts that sales at the fair will still match last year's levels.’
    • ‘For most people the periodic fairs and assemblies were the high spots of the year.’
    • ‘Gather a well-stocked home library, perhaps through used-book stores, book fairs, and garage sales.’
    • ‘He said: ‘Stan was a great person to be around and a wonderful organiser of our Christmas bazaars and May Day fairs.’’
    • ‘‘I am always on the look out at car boot sales and at antiques fairs,’ she said.’
    • ‘The couple's complicated travel schedule takes in trade fairs and art sales around the world, while always keeping to the three-week rule.’
    • ‘Having spent several years acquiring photographs from art fairs and auctions around the world, Bernard's collection features some of the most unforgettable shots of the past two centuries.’
    • ‘The rules were probably suspended during the periodic fairs, some of which did impressive business.’
    • ‘The organisation markets these products through exhibitions and fairs at the local and national level, in association with other craft-based agencies.’
    • ‘There will be many fairs with street stalls selling all sorts of traditional as well as newer merchandise that will certainly help add to the clutter again.’
    • ‘There may well be a few more jumble sales and autumn fairs in Sheffield next year.’
    • ‘Also, being showcased in the book fair guarantees big sales.’
    • ‘While kids love the brightly painted, simple toys, there's another segment of society who pore over internet sites, haunt garage sales and church fairs.’
    • ‘Organisers have appealed for items to be donated for sale at the fair.’
    • ‘It will also include events in villages across Lancashire from rose queens, town crier competitions to plant sales and antique fairs.’
    • ‘To stock the shop the sales team scoured trade fairs to choose a selection that is exciting and unusual.’
    market, bazaar, mart, exchange, sale
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 An exhibition to promote particular products.
      ‘the European Fine Art Fair’
      • ‘Local merchants assisted in promoting the fashion fair in their stores, providing clothing for the models, and door prizes.’
      • ‘Demonstrators at an arms fair in London that same year were also searched under anti-terrorism legislation.’
      • ‘Yang Renzheng was speaking at the Hong Kong trade fair promoting his city Huzhou.’
      • ‘Mistry is also conducting a workshop at the trade fair, where this exhibition has been put up.’
      • ‘Shot almost entirely at one of those trade fairs on a huge exhibition space, Helen Graham and Rosie Ellison's film touches on things rather than investigates in depth.’
      • ‘The atrium hosts a variety of events from art shows and children's concerts to health fairs and screenings.’
      • ‘The models cost a tidy packet but the organisation finds them easy to display at trade fairs and expos, here and overseas.’
      • ‘Linda, who exhibits at local wedding fairs and exhibitions, has designed all the decoration arrangements which she keeps in a ready available portfolio.’
      • ‘After the hectic Christmas build-up which starts as early as September the time has come to visit more trade fairs and source new products.’
      • ‘And Dr Sousa said that this gap in communication can often surface, embarrassingly, at business fairs and exhibitions.’
      • ‘Last year nearly 20,000 companies exhibited at TDC-sponsored trade fairs attended by more than 400,000 buyers, according to council statistics.’
      • ‘He said those working in the exhibition industry should be familiar with products and services in world markets and be able to organise promotions and trade fairs, and many are not.’
      • ‘Implement manufacturers, grocers, lawyers, and railroad executives all had a stake in the health of the rural economy and worked tirelessly to promote fairs.’
      • ‘Participate regularly at relevant trade fairs for your product - at least one - and then annually so people get to know you and become used to you in their country.’
      • ‘He added that access to relevant Germany industry exhibition catalogues and trade fairs was vital and explained that services such as translation and support made a huge difference.’
      • ‘Christopher visits markets, agricultural shows and trade fairs all over Britain seeking out the best producers to join the Distinctly British fold.’
      • ‘How does displaying a product at a trade fair conform to a requirement to observe a strict code of confidentiality in relation to the product?’
      • ‘Abbreviated screening, or cholesterol testing, is also available to the public through health fairs and at some pharmacies.’
      • ‘Trade fairs and exhibitions, which herald every festival season, have already come up at various spots in the city.’
      • ‘For the foreign participants in those exhibitions and trade fairs from especially Europe another reform seems necessary.’
      exhibition, display, show, showing, presentation, demonstration, exposition, spectacle, extravaganza
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2North American An annual competitive exhibition of livestock, agricultural products, etc., held by a town, county, or state.
      • ‘When I was a kid, going to the county fair was a big deal and every one of them had a shooting gallery.’
      • ‘Why, I remember when my own won the pig competition in the county fair, it made my heart bleat with pride and joy.’
      • ‘As for the county fair, well, I'm planning to enter the fruits and vegetables competition.’
      • ‘As a kid my neighbor Lois would employ me to gather elderberries for pies that she would enter in the county fair.’
      • ‘Central Market lets me get the shopping done while making me feel as if I've just been to the county fair.’
      • ‘The boy beamed as if he had just won a stuffed toy in one of those side shows at the county fair.’
      • ‘Every year, our community has a livestock fair, which JRH has found himself enjoying.’
      • ‘Mom had taken me to the county fair with Lily, and I had won the painting by popping a balloon with a dart.’
      • ‘For example, when she was thirteen, her bread and embroidery won two grand prizes at the county fair.’
      • ‘One of most enduring memories in my life is when I won a key chain at a county fair.’
      • ‘It's the Rex breed of rabbit that I drool over every September, in the Small Animal Barn of our county fair.’
      • ‘Pickpockets gravitate to such high-traffic areas as airports, vacation resorts and county fairs, Foley says.’
      • ‘After hawking their burgers at county fairs for a few years, they decided to open up a restaurant.’
      • ‘The experience far surpasses a pony ride at a county fair, and children will delight in the adventure.’
      • ‘I'm sure you have watched dog shows, horse shows, etc. on TV or at a county fair.’
      • ‘Homemade jellies, pies and canned goods earned her ribbons at the county fair.’
      • ‘In lazy summer days, it is usually time for parades, ice cream socials and county fairs.’
      • ‘People paid me big bucks to come and train their kids how to properly show livestock at fairs and competitions.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘periodic gathering for the sale of goods’): from Old French feire, from late Latin feria, singular of Latin feriae ‘holy days’ (on which such fairs were often held).




Main definitions of fair in English

: fair1fair2fair3



[WITH OBJECT]usually as adjective faired
  • Streamline (a vehicle, boat, or aircraft) by adding fairings.

    ‘it is fully faired and race ready’
    • ‘The hull is then faired and painted in the traditional black for the Galway hookers.’
    • ‘Torpedo tubes are faired into either side of the bow, complete with live torpedoes.’


Old English in the senses ‘beautify’ and ‘appear or become clean’. The current sense dates from the mid 19th century.