Definition of fate in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The development of events outside a person's control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power.

    ‘fate decided his course for him’
    ‘his injury is a cruel twist of fate’
    • ‘However, it was a cruel twist of fate that robbed him yet again of a sprint race win and, therefore, of an Irish double.’
    • ‘A calendrical twist of fate found us celebrating Christmas this year on the middle day of December.’
    • ‘A mother has been reunited with a daughter she had not spoken to for 15 years in an amazing twist of fate.’
    • ‘But, in a somewhat cruel twist of fate, you will also not remember to go out and buy it.’
    • ‘Sadly, in a cruel twist of fate, he was killed in a car accident just a few months later, aged just 21.’
    • ‘They forge a relationship based on their common sense of helplessness in the face of the overwhelming power of fate.’
    • ‘Maybe in a strange twist of fate, Mom and Dad would be in bed sleeping.’
    • ‘Yet in a pathetic twist of fate, John's final act was the ultimate percentage play.’
    • ‘By a strange twist of fate, that actually is what the book was called.’
    • ‘And from time to time, nature and fate conspire to bring a mortal down.’
    • ‘It was a simple twist of fate that introduced him to the chartered accountancy profession.’
    • ‘It is a cruel twist of fate, especially with a new presidency that few expect to benefit the poorest of Americans.’
    • ‘Yet by an ironic twist of fate he is blind to the world around him, losing Dot, who is expecting his child, to a pastry maker.’
    • ‘Kane understood the power of fate, and the inevitability of consequence.’
    • ‘He will live on for as long as the world remains daft and cruel fate chooses to mock us all.’
    • ‘In a remarkable twist of fate, they get locked in the storeroom together.’
    • ‘Remarkably, he found the right words to comfort those affected by the cruellest twist of fate.’
    • ‘Then in a twist of fate her eye's are raised, they meet mine and I can feel all my insides turn to jelly.’
    • ‘She was about to send off an application to drama school when fate intervened.’
    • ‘By an ironic twist of fate, each of the four sides in the hat must face up to a derby match on the deciding Saturday.’
    destiny, providence, god's will, nemesis, kismet, astral influence, the stars, what is written in the stars, one's lot in life
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    1. 1.1[count noun]The course of someone's life, or the outcome of a situation for someone or something, seen as outside their control.
      ‘he stared at the faces of the committee, trying to guess his fate’
      • ‘What lies ahead then will be the struggle to avoid these two fates.’
      • ‘We learned from past elections that the nation's fate depends on whom the people choose as the president.’
      • ‘Much the same fate has apparently befallen many other fairly despicable celebrities.’
      • ‘He may have to live in exile from his own country, and while this is unfortunate, there are worse fates.’
      • ‘We understand your need for privacy, but the fate of mankind outweighs this need.’
      • ‘Did they realize too, that their fates were inextricably fixed to the outcome of that day's actions?’
      • ‘I died a little for him that day, because I knew his fate was sealed.’
      • ‘If you were to build a snowman, it would suffer a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘While their paths diverged after 1990, their fates are entwined again this season.’
      • ‘Such efficiency gains could play a crucial role in determining the ultimate fate of satellite broadband.’
      • ‘We have seen that inflation tells us nothing about the ultimate fate of the Universe.’
      • ‘Stock options were a way to make executives more involved with the fates of the companies.’
      • ‘Men controlled the fates of women, whose expected aim in life was to marry well.’
      • ‘Over 100,000 have already crossed the border into Liberia and to an uncertain fate.’
      • ‘He now realized that she had saved him from a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘Haven't churches, synagogues and mosques met the same fate at the hands of vandals?’
      • ‘Earth would have suffered the same fate had it been just a little closer to the Sun.’
      • ‘He also wanted to know how many other importers have suffered a similar fate.’
      • ‘Besides, this is the battle that will decide the fate of our world.’
      • ‘Max felt that the fate of all mankind depended on this one decision.’
      future, destiny, outcome, issue, upshot, end, lot, due
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    2. 1.2[in singular]The inescapable death of a person.
      ‘the guards led her to her fate’
      • ‘His fate, death by firing squad, would hardly seem a cause for celebration.’
      • ‘Over the next century, nine major searches added to the sense that the party had met an almost supernatural fate.’
      • ‘It is easy to see that this was the logical response to the dawning realisation of death as the fate of us all.’
      • ‘Some bodies had become tourist attractions as inquisitive locals came to view the fate of their former rulers.’
      • ‘Jesus is not praying to be rescued from death, for that is the fate of all human beings.’
      • ‘It's a sad tale of the fate of a whistleblower, and a dark rump of cop culture.’
      death, demise, end, destruction, doom
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  • 2Roman Mythology Greek
    The three goddesses who preside over the birth and life of humans. Each person was thought of as a spindle, around which the three Fates (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos) would spin the thread of human destiny.

    • ‘Atropos is the name of one of the Fates, mythical beings who controlled the destinies of humans.’
    • ‘And the sort of Goddess which the Fates held out to me was contained in the Old Religion.’
    • ‘They're called the three Fates: The Clotho, The Lachesis and The Atropos, named after the Greek mythology.’
    • ‘To the Greeks, your destiny was in the hands of the Fates, three heartless old women.’
    • ‘The three Fates, or Moirai, were the offspring of Zeus and the Titan Themis.’
    the weird sisters
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    1. 2.1
      another term for Norns


  • Be destined to happen, turn out, or act in a particular way.

    [with infinitive] ‘the regime was fated to end badly’
    • ‘The more famous you are now; the more obscure you are fated to be when the wheel turns through another quarter-circle.’
    • ‘For Ireland's most interesting local candidate, it seemed life was fated to imitate art.’
    • ‘We are fated to live together and we must do the work of making that coexistence as painless as possible.’
    • ‘I wasn't fated to run a seafood processing operation a thousand miles from anywhere.’
    • ‘But there remains someone on earth whom we are fated to love and who is fated to love us.’
    • ‘The hard choice often perplexes them and they sometimes believe the decision is fated.’
    • ‘It may be that the West is fated, by its very cultural plenitude, to host some minimal number of such parasites.’
    • ‘But is this new vehicle of unconstrained expression fated to come under the thumb of the powers that be?’
    • ‘There were thousands of books in that room, all new and almost equally fated never to be reviewed.’
    • ‘It is also a great New York story, a tai chi story, an accidental but somehow fated destiny.’
    • ‘It would seem that I'm fated not to work for a while yet.’
    • ‘Could the unearthing of that page really have fated this destiny for us?’
    • ‘Despite their innocent closeness, the three friends are fated to separate after a violent incident.’
    • ‘Faith's just one of those character's who is fated to die.’
    • ‘They believe, many of them, that they are fated, or charmed, or destined to do the things they do.’
    • ‘It seemed it was one of those competitions we were fated to win.’
    • ‘Furthermore, he was fated to do those terrible things, as oracles plainly stated at his birth.’
    • ‘Vast amounts of the knowledge and creative output of the last century is fated to turn to dust; forgotten, unwanted and unknown.’
    • ‘The result is that most urban pet dogs are fated to a caged life with little care or physical activity.’
    • ‘Our political culture seems fated to return to this sore spot.’
    be predestined, be preordained, be foreordained, be destined, be meant, be doomed, be foredoomed, be cursed, be damned
    be sure, be certain, be bound, be guaranteed
    be inevitable, be inescapable, be ineluctable
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  • a fate worse than death

    • A terrible experience.

      ‘are you going to buy me a drink as well as rescuing me from a fate worse than death?’
      • ‘If you haven't, then I look forward to reading your email message categorically listing the 39 reasons why I have let you down and how I deserve a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘The idea of working desk duty was like a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘His point, as I pretended intense interest with my gaping pig imitation, was that without organized crime you'd be stuck with disorganized crime, a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘To me, failing at this calling when challenged would be a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘Perhaps the endless waiting and not knowing is literally a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘A group of brilliant artists were forced to be locked for months in the same office space as me - a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘For to cut off the limbs of people whose labour on the land gives them both a livelihood and a sense of belonging is to inflict on them a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘Why is it considered a fate worse than death to stay at home and rear children?’
      • ‘Positive attention from admiration is fine by me, but having pushy people constantly invading my privacy in the name of admiration is a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘Cara nodded again, as though resigning herself to a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘Losing those would be a fate worse than death I assure you!’
      • ‘Self-doubt in a self-knowledge paradigm is a fate worse than death, because without a ground of being, one cannot protect oneself from attacks whether they be emotional, cultural, or economic.’
      • ‘Many people regard stroke as a fate worse than death - and with good reason.’
      • ‘I sense no treachery in your word, but know if you betray me, you shall suffer a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘Another option is to move back in with my parents, which quite frankly would be a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘Still a bit dazed, she remembered being thrown into the wall, then saved from a fate worse than death, but then she remembered the face.’
      • ‘It'd be a fate worse than death, a bit like being kept comatose on life support for decades: yes, technically you're alive, but it's no life at all.’
      • ‘Her last thought was that she had saved her son from a fate worse than death.’
      • ‘Treves rescues Merrick from a fate worse than death as he is attacked by a ravenous crowd at Liverpool Street station.’
  • seal someone's fate

    • Make it inevitable that something unpleasant will happen to someone.

      ‘he had cheated the boss and sealed his own fate’
      • ‘And once you resist their military, you're pretty much sealing your fate.’
      • ‘But at the end of the day he's courting his own destruction, sealing his fate.’
      • ‘I had misinterpreted my own future and then taken steps towards this false future, therefore sealing my fate with Mr. Odd.’
      • ‘He seals your fate, but looks confused if you protest.’
      • ‘The fact that one of the four buildings in Broad Lane was said to be in need of serious repair, coupled with lack of room to expand the facility, is thought to have sealed their fate.’
      • ‘The little girl spins her head around devilishly to cast the finger in my direction, sealing my fate, casting me out.’
      • ‘That inexperience combined with the fact they were playing overseas for the first time sealed their fate.’
      • ‘As she flattens her shoes on the grill, she uses the fingers of both hands to steer the skirt's folded hem forward, sealing its fate forever.’
      • ‘But more mistakes and a first minute penalty sealed their fate.’
      • ‘He then takes to visiting the mad ward daily, an act which seals his fate.’


Late Middle English: from Italian fato or (later) from its source, Latin fatum that which has been spoken, from fari speak.