Definition of failure in English:



  • 1Lack of success.

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

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

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


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