Definition of fail in English:

fail

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1Be unsuccessful in achieving one's goal.

    ‘he failed in his attempt to secure election’
    [with infinitive] ‘they failed to be ranked in the top ten’
    • ‘The efforts failed due to unionist intransigence and nationalist boycott.’
    • ‘They would hope that when the market is liberalised, that they would not see our established firms fail to survive in the competitive environment.’
    • ‘Judging by press accounts, many applicants who failed to qualify complained openly that politics had played a role.’
    • ‘The most critical was that the regime had failed to establish firm control over the population.’
    • ‘Angry traders have failed in their latest bid to shut down the notorious Welling bus lane.’
    • ‘Research has not adequately explained why women-owned firms fail to grow as rapidly as those owned by men.’
    • ‘His argument held water with the Senate, where an override attempt failed by one vote.’
    • ‘The nine disciples had just failed miserably in an attempt to heal a child.’
    • ‘The low rates of bank borrowing have also failed to inspire firms to invest.’
    • ‘The systems failed spectacularly to meet the deadline for the new term, but we'll let that pass.’
    • ‘Sofia failed in bids to host the Winter Olympics in bids for both 1992 and 1994.’
    • ‘If the government fails to be firm and resolute, the loss of confidence could bring the economy to a halt while social unrest and regional conflicts could increase.’
    • ‘Today comes the news that the party failed in its quest for a final seat.’
    • ‘The firms have previously failed to secure planning for supermarkets at other sites in the town.’
    1. 1.1[with object]Be unsuccessful in (an examination, test, or interview)
      ‘she failed her finals’
      • ‘If he is failing because of a lack of ability they can help him to accept his limitations and focus on his strengths.’
      • ‘I fail these exams, and it is by no means an easy out.’
      • ‘He was struck by how one woman utterly failed the test.’
      • ‘Youths in trouble with the law and students in danger of failing school also are eligible for the organization's programs.’
      • ‘The day ended with me failing the exam despite me reaching there on time.’
      • ‘However, the momentary setback of failing that exam delays Dan just enough to miss the plane.’
    2. 1.2[with object](of a person or a commodity) be unable to meet the standards set by (a test of quality or eligibility)
      ‘the player has failed a drug test’
      • ‘Their relationship is tested, fails, and rebuilds several times over thirteen episodes.’
      • ‘Steven Watkinson makes some good points about the difficulty of making good policy, but the government's boat people policy fails all the tests, both moral and practical.’
      • ‘Face-scanning in airports - catching terrorists as they walk by - fails miserably in tests.’
      • ‘However, the experiment failed in a major way, and the camera wanders all over the place.’
      • ‘She did not fail for lack of sincere, honest, hard-working effort.’
      • ‘And that is where The Science of Romance ultimately fails the test as an evolutionary explanation.’
      • ‘The photo passes tests of symmetry that the painted chandelier fails, Stork says.’
      • ‘The rules require the title to revert to the original champion if a triumphant challenger fails of a doping test.’
      • ‘He has failed on both occasions, and he has deliberately defied your ruling.’
    3. 1.3[with object]Judge (someone, especially in an examination) not to have passed.
      • ‘Some Inspectors were stricter than others and failed children who might have passed in another district.’
  • 2Neglect to do something.

    [with infinitive] ‘the firm failed to give adequate risk warnings’
    • ‘The Government in turn are guilty of neglect for failing to do anything about it.’
    • ‘The player in question held up his hand in apology but Bradley lost his temper and accused them of breaking the rules by failing to shout a warning.’
    • ‘In the recent Kendall inspection, the firm was cited for failing to have an adequate design change procedure, according to the warning letter.’
    • ‘However, he warned that any firm which failed to comply with the new rules and standards would face penalties.’
    • ‘A Marine Department probe failed to reach a firm conclusion on the reasons for the incident.’
    • ‘They promised much in this campaign but in the end failed dismally to deliver.’
    • ‘As we all work longer hours, cope with pressurised jobs and fail to take proper breaks, stress in many cases seems to take over.’
    • ‘Many Bradford business leaders are failing to embrace the chance to learn about the latest advances in management, it was claimed today.’
    • ‘Have the independent firms been failing to count significant bulk sales of the device?’
    • ‘In February, Data Protection commissioner Joe Meade announced that he had successfully prosecuted two legal firms for failing to register as data controllers.’
    • ‘For the same reason, the Commissioner is unlikely to use the law as a tool against firms which fail to implement the code.’
    • ‘Enterprises have also failed to comply with their assigned pension contributions.’
    • ‘You and I have have been together for so long now you may feel that I sometimes neglect you, or fail to tell you how I really feel.’
    • ‘He had also failed to store the money collected during the afternoon in the separate time-locked safes as he was supposed to.’
    • ‘Following distribution, telephone calls were made to those firms failing to respond within two weeks.’
    • ‘Every time powerful and influential firms fail to dictate a trend or convey a message, the result is millions of dollars of losses for the industry.’
    • ‘So far, the government has failed dismally to respond to this epidemic.’
    • ‘The Disability Rights Commission is set to get tough with firms that fail to comply with new laws.’
    • ‘Disclosures of payments to beholden director's firms also fail to specify the amounts involved.’
    • ‘The group claims the airlines neglected their duty of care by failing to take adequate steps to prevent passengers developing economy class syndrome.’
    1. 2.1[with infinitive]Behave in a way contrary to hopes or expectations by not doing something.
      ‘commuter chaos has again failed to materialize’
      • ‘We don't know - I don't want to create expectations and then fail to deliver on our promises.’
      • ‘This either means analysts were too optimistic in their expectations, or companies failed to live up to such demanding goals.’
      • ‘When the supposedly expected guffaws fail to materialize, Martin feigns puzzlement.’
      • ‘The progress of the boys is monitored for about a year, and if they fail to live up to expectations, they are dropped for the following year.’
      • ‘I defined failure earlier in terms of disappointed expectations and suggested that Saleem fails to fulfill the expectations he creates for himself.’
      • ‘Yet by failing to meet expectations of a radical cabinet rehaul, he may yet be confronted by unruly backbenchers.’
      • ‘The company, which failed to meet profit expectations, also said it would temporarily idle more plants.’
      • ‘Contrary to the expectations, the film failed to click at the box office.’
      • ‘If they fail to meet those expectations they will find that the climate for coming back for more will be very different.’
      • ‘The bank also predicts a sharp deterioration in the public finances as growth and tax revenues fail to meet government expectations.’
      • ‘Sometimes, however, he fails to meet those expectations.’
      • ‘He found work in Nepal but it dried up when a building contract failed to materialise.’
      • ‘And yet the professionals have not been playing to expectation, sometimes failing to beat the second round cut when amateurs recorded better scores.’
      • ‘‘When the income rate and working conditions fail to meet their expectations, many choose to give up,’ Yan said.’
      • ‘Sometimes, eagerly anticipated musical encounters fail to meet expectations, but when these titans of the tenor sax got together in 1957, the results were stunning.’
      • ‘Sadly they were understaffed, swamped by the number of calls they received, and the initiative misfired - raising expectations but failing to deliver on them.’
      • ‘Here we assess who lived up to expectations - and who failed to rise to the occasion.’
      • ‘Such zero-damage expectations themselves risk creating a feeling of defeatism when the expectations understandably fail to come true.’
      • ‘So often we anxiously anticipate certain releases only to find ourselves disappointed when they fail to match our expectations.’
      • ‘Promises made by the government have also failed to materialise.’
    2. 2.2Used to express a strong belief that something must be the case.
      ‘you cannot fail to be deeply impressed’
      • ‘What we couldn't fail to hear was the sound of the blood beating through the umbilical cord.’
      • ‘‘He was a truculent and feisty character who you couldn't fail to admire and I believe those wartime experiences took a toll on his health in later years,’ said Mr Brennen.’
      • ‘I couldn't fail to achieve my goal after coming so far.’
      • ‘The first mouthful was like an enormous punch of cherry flavours, and with the high alcohol level, you couldn't fail to be reminded of black forest gateau.’
      • ‘The listener couldn't fail to be impressed by the depth and breadth of Morton's knowledge, and the sincerity of his views.’
      • ‘Although you cannot fail to notice a solar eclipse because the Moon, being about the same apparent size as the Sun, blocks out the light, the Transit of Venus is more difficult to observe.’
      • ‘With such a welcome, the Roses couldn't fail to be enthused by the enormous greeting that awaited them and what their visit lacked as regards time, was compensated for in the warm welcome received.’
      • ‘‘We cannot fail to observe that what was impossible on the Thursday could be accomplished in an emergency meeting on the Sunday,’ said Patterson.’
      • ‘But you couldn't fail to be a little shocked by the volume and pitch of the invective directed our way.’
      • ‘If you watched the film Billy Elliot on Easter Monday, you couldn't fail to be moved by the story of a young northern boy who left his mining town roots and became an acclaimed dancer in London.’
      • ‘The cedar has gone, the gold and jewels have been pillaged, the paint faded, statues broken, brocade lost but it is the very scale of the ruins which cannot fail to move and impress the visitor.’
      • ‘Having turned 20 earlier this month, and until now having limited his training to three days a week, he cannot fail to get stronger.’
      • ‘Mr Perks said: ‘The huge scale of the locomotive building business cannot fail to impress.’’
      • ‘And if one has that belief, one cannot fail to be moved by what has happened already.’
      • ‘Anyone who knows how to buy clothes couldn't fail to love Jo's accessories.’
      • ‘You couldn't fail to lose weight being given cold scrambled egg to reheat - a snip at $35 a day.’
      • ‘And given the setting of a light and airy former mill house, the overall package was one that couldn't fail to impress.’
      • ‘Nigel Blundell reports on what couldn't fail to be an amusing evening for all concerned’
      • ‘Indeed, yesterday's opening stage was over a course that couldn't fail to inspire, just as it exhausted the riders.’
      • ‘I think he's a man of great integrity, a man who values his reputation and he couldn't fail to be absolutely devastated by what had happened to him.’
    3. 2.3Used to indicate that something invariably happens.
      ‘such comments never failed to annoy him’
      • ‘Combining a fluid technique with a wonderful imagination, Greg never fails to deliver heartfelt music.’
      • ‘I mean, her bob is always so perfectly fixed and thus never fails to look stylish on her.’
      • ‘She had always expected the best from Nile, so she never failed to be disappointed by a missed question or two on a test.’
      • ‘It never fails to amaze me that after all the arrangements, the planning, the tears and the fights, every wedding works out perfectly.’
      • ‘Though the award isn't given until December, the unveiling of the nominees never fails to kick-start controversy.’
      • ‘The Dakotas never failed to support soldiers and always accomplished their mission.’
      • ‘Mmm, it was comments like those that never failed to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.’
      • ‘He was a listener, he had always been a listener, and he never failed to hear her out.’
      • ‘You know, our children don't always listen to us, but they never fail to imitate us.’
      • ‘The girl he had helped off the streets still never failed to fascinate him, and he always enjoyed her company.’
      • ‘But here they were, always there for him when he needed them and never failing to make him smile when he was feeling low or supporting him in one way or another.’
      • ‘It never fails to bring a smile and always arouses the interest of the discerning observer.’
      • ‘He never failed to cheer her up and for some reason, he always understood her.’
      • ‘Thanks Lou and Jennifer for the lovely comments you never fail to leave on my posts.’
      • ‘Louise was annoying sometimes, but never failed to get a smile on Katrina's face.’
      • ‘The event never fails to captivate the excitement of the children, who always eagerly looked forward to it.’
      • ‘He always had some happy rock music blaring and it never failed to put Lissie in a good mood.’
      • ‘But it never fails to amaze me that there is always something to see, something to discover.’
      • ‘I never took part but always watched and it never failed to impress me.’
      • ‘Even when grievously ill, he never failed to meet a deadline, never failed to deliver.’
    4. 2.4[with object]Desert or let down (someone)
      ‘at the last moment her nerve failed her’
      • ‘I tried to communicate to him that he was wrong, that there was evidence that he was wrong, but at that crucial moment I failed him.’
      • ‘After a good fifteen minutes, she finally turned to go, her nerves failing her.’
      • ‘His first intimation that his nerves are failing him occurs while he is out jogging in the Catholic cemetery.’
      • ‘The group claims current laws are failing children and fathers and wants better parenting rights for fathers.’
      • ‘They among the 70-strong gathering who came to hear Abbott discuss how modern society is failing its young people, in particular, adolescents.’
      • ‘For some reason, however, his nerve failed him and he never made the attack.’
      • ‘Plus, it would be failing the people who donated the books to sell them for less than they were really worth.’
      • ‘Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger?’
      • ‘According to Dr Kilkelly, the Children's Court system is failing many young people and causing them to enter an endless cycle of offending.’
      • ‘They simply couldn't bear to fail their parents by admitting that they'd made a mistake.’
      • ‘This latest attempt to make the long-term care system fairer arises as evidence grows that it is failing many people.’
      • ‘When Henry finally got the chance to sprint towards goal just after the half-hour, his nerve failed him.’
      • ‘Her convent education fails her in her moment of greatest need, though it does enable her to retrace her steps down an older path with new eyes.’
      • ‘For a moment all his senses failed him then slowly came back as his healing ability kicked in.’
      • ‘We've got our education failing indigenous people.’
      • ‘Any semblance of nerve failed him, and for the second time in his life, Sakki Ryu ran from a fight.’
      • ‘He tried to think of something to say, but words failed him at the moment.’
      • ‘His mouth opened to speak, his mind had a thousand things to say, but his throat failed him on that moment.’
      • ‘Words often failed him, his memory sometimes betrayed him, but his vision was large and clear.’
      • ‘I don't want to fail my parents because I know they've been working hard for the family to make enough money for us to buy each other birthday and Christmas presents.’
  • 3Break down; cease to work well.

    ‘a truck whose brakes had failed’
    • ‘Should Service Pack 2 fail to install properly, the guide also explains how to restore your computer to a working state.’
    • ‘Before Gulbransen could feather the prop it too failed and continued to spin out of control.’
    • ‘The lift has failed several times since it opened, and the shuttle bus has been pressed back into service intermittently.’
    • ‘The time at which you activate your parachute system plays an important part in the amount of time you have to stop if the parachute fails to deploy properly.’
    • ‘However, in March of that year the pump failed due to underground movement in the old shaft and increasing amounts of silt.’
    • ‘Enrique ran for a total of 65 laps taking the engine past its target mileage before it finally failed.’
    • ‘Mobile phone systems failed due to overloading, creating long lines as people queued to use pay phones.’
    • ‘A system is put under load and either passes or fails.’
    • ‘It is part owner of one of the transmission lines that failed early on the day of the blackout.’
    • ‘His nightmare was based on once when his brakes nearly failed going along Clapham Common.’
    break down, break, stop working, cease to function, cut out, stop, stall, crash, give out
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1Become weaker or of poorer quality; die away.
      ‘the light began to fail’
      ‘his failing health’
      • ‘Years later, when her health began to fail, it was here that she wanted to spend her last days.’
      • ‘We happened to be there just before his health began to fail rapidly.’
      • ‘In 1944 her health began to fail, and she was hospitalized the following year.’
      • ‘Towards the end of the afternoon, as the light began to fail, the first of several squadrons of wild geese came flying over the house on their way to the fields where they spend their nights.’
      • ‘When her health began to fail she moved to a residential home in Whitley Bay, where she died eight weeks later.’
      • ‘Another case against Ivol was abandoned last year after her health began to fail and she died in September last year.’
      • ‘When his health began to fail, the family auctioned off the game collection to pay for the medical bills that he had accrued during a long illness.’
      • ‘Michael's health began to fail about two years ago and it deteriorated seriously from which he did not really recover.’
      • ‘In 2004, his health began to fail, but given his strong unyielding spirit he continued his work as long as was practical.’
      • ‘He worked until earlier this year, when his health began to fail.’
      • ‘His health began to fail, and he retired to the Pyrenees, where he convalesced until his health improved.’
      • ‘By 1885 John Orme's health had begun to fail, and he found it necessary to resign his preaching duties.’
      • ‘Although his health was beginning to fail, he still had that enthusiasm I first felt so many years earlier, and I became inspired by it all over again.’
      • ‘However, his health began to fail in May of 1932 when he suffered heart problems.’
      • ‘In latter years, although his health was beginning to fail, he still enjoyed the company of friends and neighbours and had a big interest in the local football team.’
      • ‘In the last years his health began to fail but Johnnie held on bravely to the last and did not complain.’
      • ‘The light was beginning to fail as it got later, and the street was less crowded than it had been earlier.’
      • ‘The two women became friends, and when Jackson's health began to fail, she left her unfinished manuscript in Lotty's hands with instructions about how it was to be arranged.’
      • ‘Mavis's health first began to fail in January and in March she was diagnosed with mesothelioma.’
      • ‘On that occasion he did not enjoy the mobility of previous years as his health had begun to fail.’
    2. 3.2(especially of a rain or a crop or supply) be lacking or insufficient when needed or expected.
      • ‘A lot of them grow their own maize, but if that year's crop fails they've got no food.’
      • ‘One crop might fail, but another will survive - there are heartbreaks here too, but no single moment of crisis, as with a monocultural cash crop.’
      • ‘Last year's crop failed because of too much rain; this year there is too little.’
      • ‘In Northland though if one crop fails, the next is right there, almost ready.’
      • ‘Outside, the parched soil has turned to dust and his crops have failed disastrously.’
      • ‘Several southern African countries face famine because crops have failed as a result of drought or flooding or both.’
      • ‘But once again this year the rains have failed, and the crops are scorched and wilted.’
      • ‘Agriculture in Africa is rain-fed, and when those rains fail so do the crops, exacerbating food insecurity.’
      • ‘Even though it was scary when four out of five main power lines were down and we thought the water supply might fail, a straight drama about those events would have been painful.’
      • ‘The Northumbrian water supply failed during Christmas 1995 when the main pipes froze.’
      • ‘If the rains fail or someone falls ill, they have to sell what little they have - perhaps a pig or a goat - to buy medicines.’
      • ‘Women are giving birth to dead babies, the crops are failing, the rain isn't falling, there are blights and there are plagues.’
      • ‘Here in northern Afghanistan, for the first time in four years, the rains didn't fail, and these farmers are now reaping the benefits.’
      • ‘It is an agricultural and market town but the crops have failed for each of the last two years.’
      • ‘For myself, I had an ambitious plan to grow corn, but the crop failed.’
      • ‘This year's maize crop is expected to fail, worsening already serious food shortages.’
      • ‘As foot and mouth sweeps the land and crops fail because of the disastrous growing season, farmers must be wondering where the next disaster will come from.’
      • ‘Dr John Harrison, a climate expert from the University of Stirling, says crops will fail before the land is flooded as salt impregnates the soil.’
      • ‘But although conditions are basic and power supplies sometimes fail, pitching the mess tent into darkness, no one is complaining too much.’
      • ‘Even as we speak, what worries us is the fact that our crop is failing because of the rains, because of the drought, and we are not the only ones who are hit with it.’
    3. 3.3(of a business or a person) be obliged to cease trading because of lack of funds; become bankrupt.
      • ‘Firms fail - no one can legislate away investor risk.’
      • ‘Rupert's business was failing, so his motive for co-operating with the FBI was at first financial.’
      • ‘Akwaake said it has been noted that many new businesses fail because of the lack of mentoring.’
      • ‘Well, better that than the business failing altogether, is the obvious riposte.’
      • ‘I think in India it is still an issue of economics and you have to worry about the future, and if your business fails, your entire clan is affected and is sorrowful and that puts additional pressure.’
      • ‘More than a few businesses have failed because of lack of proper planning for capital and cash flow needs.’
      • ‘His business ventures failed, and his offers to fight in the Napoleonic wars were refused.’
      • ‘This could lead to a rash of negative reports from any auditor whose business is failing.’
      • ‘Considerable jockeying for position takes place as the companies' battle each other in the market place for survival, with the weaker firms failing and dropping out.’
      • ‘Blair Nimmo: ‘Throughout 2003 we have seen a marked reduction in the number of Scottish businesses failing,’.’
      • ‘There are three things to worry about if your law firm fails.’
      • ‘How many countries do you know that will let a business employing 17,000 people fail?’
      • ‘Not only is Gordon's business failing, but he and his wife have a baby girl who won't stop crying - so he's delirious from sleep deprivation and guilt.’
      • ‘Yet, businesses fail because of a lack of knowledge, money, and support.’
      • ‘A picture of a tough home life emerged, with her ex-military father's business ventures failing and Mills admitting she was forced to steal food.’
      • ‘When firms fail, there rarely is any reason for taxpayers to pick up the tab.’
      • ‘In the short term, however, some jobs would likely be lost as firms fail or restructure in the face of increased competition.’
      • ‘If, however, the business is failing and the asset base is being gradually eroded, an early decision may leave some capital for reinvestment.’
      • ‘I will not stand by and watch American businesses fail because of unfair trading practices abroad.’

noun

  • A grade that is not high enough to pass an examination or test.

    • ‘The pollen certificate might help them get a fail upgraded to a pass grade, or even a lower than expected pass grade increased.’
    • ‘A letter or pass / fail grade, depending on district policy, is filed with the school at the appropriate time.’
    • ‘It is feared that their children will be given an automatic fail mark because the number of days they study at school falls far short of the minimum set by the education authorities.’
    • ‘Most disappointing of all was his recent essay on improving the public health, for which he was given a borderline fail grade.’
    • ‘These fail marks meant that 336 high school students were not allowed to graduate.’
    • ‘I swiftly came to the conclusion that anything above a fail grade would be a triumph.’
    • ‘If you don't know what a pass or a fail would mean with respect to finding the problem's cause, then don't run that test because it is a waste of time.’
    • ‘The rest of the day went quickly except for a few fails in tests but hey, what's new?’
    • ‘In Buchanan County, Missouri, 81% of students involved in a CTC programme improved their grades from fail to pass in two or more subjects.’
    • ‘This is something I cannot avoid because German law does not allow me to give a pass or fail grade.’
    • ‘I was waiting for Miss Nichols to let me into the maths room, so that I could do the one hour exam and hopefully boost my maths mark above a fail.’
    • ‘He has one pass in biology (grade D) a fail in chemistry (grade N) and an unclassified in maths.’
    • ‘But if top management scored high on crisis management, they get a fail grade when it comes to crisis aversion.’

Phrases

  • too big to fail

    • (of a financial organization or other business) so important to the economy of a country that a government or central bank must take measures to prevent it from ceasing to trade or going bankrupt.

      ‘he caused a stir earlier this month when he said that no company was too big to fail’
      • ‘For decades, governments across the West have permitted the creation of moral hazard in the banking system by encouraging the belief that banks are too big to fail.’
      • ‘Ultimately, if the US authorities eventually behave in a way that convinces the public that the market is too big to fail, the bubble could well last longer; the political spadework has been laid down for years.’
      • ‘And the greater the accumulation of foreign liabilities, the more the Monetary Regime became "too big to fail."’
      • ‘In Japan, such large companies were viewed as simply too big to fail.’
      • ‘Due to recent megamergers and the emergence of large, complex banking entities, do we now find ourselves in a state of elevated moral hazard where "too big to fail" becomes a dominant concern?’
      • ‘The GSEs are today much too big to fail; much too big to even slow down; and, hence, too big to regulate.’
      • ‘They hope to become too big to fail.’
      • ‘This environment is bringing new meaning to the doctrine of "Too Big to Fail."’
      • ‘Today, leveraged speculation has become "too big to fail."’
  • without fail

    • Absolutely predictably; with no exception.

      ‘he writes every week without fail’
      • ‘My father worked three jobs to care for his family and without fail he always made a point to be home for the family dinner.’
      • ‘Roast beef and chicken dinners are weekly occurrences and on every occasion without fail the meat is always perfect.’
      • ‘Why was it that whenever I was treated by fate to a romantic setting, I was always, without fail, ALONE?’
      • ‘Its colours and moods thrill the soul, ever changing in a reassuring regular manner, season after season, without fail.’
      • ‘She also paid tribute to all the cardplayers who came along without fail each Sunday night and helped in a really big way to make this possible.’
      • ‘This always cheered me up, without fail, and this time was no different.’
      • ‘They are studying plans to give those who turn up for work without fail extra days of holiday and even the chance to win prizes in order to make sure enough bobbies are on the beat.’
      • ‘Constantly, without fail, she'd find herself in a group who completely ignored her.’
      • ‘There are certain websites which always, without fail, get the wrong password out of me.’
      • ‘I think the flood problems in Jakarta are almost impossible to solve, because the city floods every year, without fail.’
      • ‘There was one of those pregnant silences that always grace a table without fail.’
      • ‘We got to choose a sweet for under 10 pence and she always, without fail, abandoned us at the checkout.’
      • ‘The lawmakers should be called to account without fail for their reckless actions that run contrary to national interest.’
      • ‘It is totally unfair that other clubs are supplying referees week in week out without fail and other clubs couldn't be bothered.’
      • ‘Natascha, Tash to most, was the first to admit that nervousness always and without fail got the better of her.’
      • ‘And yet, my mother would tune in every morning without fail, to follow the latest exploits of the main characters.’
      • ‘Above all, the resilience of the human spirit, present without fail in each location, is what has kept the filmmaker going.’
      • ‘The cargo truckers' case should become a good precedent that any illegal action will face punishment by law without fail.’
      • ‘I am the one they'll sit next to on public transport without fail.’
      • ‘It is the earliest of our primroses and the most reliable, appearing without fail each year, often blooming with the snowdrops in early February.’
      without exception, unfailingly, constantly, regularly, invariably, dependably, conscientiously, reliably, faithfully, predictably, punctually, religiously, whatever happened, always
      like clockwork
      View synonyms

Origin

Middle English: from Old French faillir (verb), faille (noun), based on Latin fallere deceive An earlier sense of the noun was failure to do or perform a duty, surviving in the phrase without fail.

Pronunciation:

fail

/fāl/