Definition of fatal in English:



  • 1Causing death.

    ‘a fatal accident’
    • ‘This protects the foliage from cold and wind damage as even the walk between shop and car can be fatal to tender plants.’
    • ‘The result of a fatal accident inquiry into her death is due later this year.’
    • ‘Speeding is now a factor in one in four fatal crashes on our roads.’
    • ‘Rabies is an invariably fatal viral disease caused by the bite of an infected animal, usually a dog.’
    • ‘Once a person develops symptoms, the disease is usually fatal.’
    • ‘He knew it was a fatal wound caused by a special type of ammunition.’
    • ‘But we know they are carrying a deadly parasite which has proved fatal to two species.’
    • ‘They can inflict a serious, and sometimes fatal, injury and should be treated with respect.’
    • ‘The spores transform into the anthrax bacteria, which produce a toxin that can be fatal to humans and animals.’
    • ‘The result would be fatal to most motorists as vehicles are likely to be damaged.’
    • ‘I looked at the CDC site, and it seems that the disease is not invariably fatal.’
    • ‘The bug causes diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever and can be fatal to babies, the old and the sick.’
    • ‘It was great beyond measure, lasted a long time and was particularly fatal to children.’
    • ‘It contains an alkaloid toxin which can be fatal to horses and other livestock.’
    • ‘Unlike bees they have an unlimited ability to sting, although the venom rarely proves fatal in humans.’
    • ‘Only about 25 of the 1,500 known species of scorpions can deliver stings that are fatal to humans.’
    • ‘The last fatal shooting attributed to the sniper took place Tuesday.’
    • ‘The wound was fatal, but not quick, he would be dying for days.’
    • ‘Is it really worth a potentially fatal accident just to avoid having your picture taken?’
    • ‘The condition can be fatal if a clot travels to the heart or lungs.’
    deadly, lethal, mortal, causing death, death dealing, killing
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    1. 1.1Leading to failure or disaster.
      ‘there were three fatal flaws in the strategy’
      • ‘That this was never permanently achieved proved fatal to their Mediterranean strategy.’
      • ‘If you have a lazy agent, it could prove fatal to your dealings with your tenant.’
      • ‘On each occasion, there was the same, potentially fatal, flaw in the system.’
      • ‘These could be produced economically and in quantity, but suffered a fatal flaw.’
      • ‘It's a fatal flaw in what otherwise has the makings of an entertainingly quirky show.’
      • ‘However, when I'd finished the process I discovered a fatal flaw in the new software.’
      • ‘They were buoyed up by hope, and often they were brought down their own fatal flaws.’
      • ‘The decision was fatal to what little possibility remained of restoring order in the country.’
      • ‘Those sort of leaders are just as fatal to regimental morale as the control freaks.’
      • ‘Sometimes it's the way the software is designed that is determined to be the fatal flaw.’
      • ‘But leaving the film to its own devices proves very nearly fatal.’
      • ‘Many believe that a second whistleblower could prove fatal to the Government.’
      • ‘Her delay in complaining thus might have been fatal to her claim.’
      • ‘This would be fatal to the central purpose of the BBC, which is to take creative risk.’
      • ‘We say it is fatal to the defendants' case that they cannot prove those accusations to be true.’
      • ‘So, tactically, it is a masterstroke, with one fatal flaw.’
      • ‘Thus the Inspector's failure to consider this aspect is not fatal to his decision.’
      • ‘What are the fatal flaws that bring him into such contempt among his own peer group?’
      • ‘However, a couple of fatal flaws in an otherwise solid defence proved costly.’
      • ‘That is why I cannot quite put my finger on what you say is the fatal flaw in this legislation.’
      disastrous, devastating, ruinous, catastrophic, calamitous, cataclysmic, destructive, grievous, dire, crippling, crushing, injurious, harmful, costly
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Late Middle English (in the senses destined by fate and ominous): from Old French, from Latin fatalis, from fatum (see fate).