Definition of fault in US English:

fault

noun

  • 1An unattractive or unsatisfactory feature, especially in a piece of work or in a person's character.

    ‘my worst fault is impatience’
    • ‘I do not know the faults of your character, nor do I think you know mine.’
    • ‘There are many faults in my character but sitting indoors fiddling with html code while the sun shines and the birds sing is not among them.’
    • ‘I have seen some of the worst faults of the world.’
    • ‘Of course a possible variation of the tragic concept would allow a character to have a fault which leads to consequences far more dire than he deserves.’
    • ‘Character faults and foibles surface slowly and are dealt with compassionately.’
    • ‘While there are some glaring faults in character and plot, it is a mostly enjoyable trip with some very nice eye candy.’
    • ‘Jealousy is reputed to be one of their worst faults, but Taureans are no more inclined to jealousy than any of the other signs.’
    • ‘Whatever its faults, the book appears to be a chick magnet.’
    • ‘But throughout the book the occasional faults matter little against the poetry's terrible aliveness.’
    • ‘The civility with which they acknowledge their faults is a positive characteristic, one associated with real culture.’
    • ‘That was one of her worst faults, she felt an urge to find out everything about everybody.’
    • ‘However, it's not enough to overcome the book's faults.’
    • ‘I do this far too often, and it's probably my worst fault.’
    • ‘The only fault in the character is one of writing, not acting.’
    • ‘I know that's one of my worst faults: being too polite, even when I shouldn't be.’
    • ‘He's a complex character with many faults and makes mistakes.’
    • ‘I fell in love with this character despite his obvious faults.’
    • ‘If you made a car with as many problems, faults and features and some software I could mention, it would fail.’
    • ‘Does your main character have faults of his own?’
    • ‘We may reflect that we all suffer from faults of character, or fail, if severely tempted, to resist temptation.’
    flaw, failing, deficiency, weakness, weak point, weak spot, shortcoming, fallibility, frailty, infirmity, foible, inadequacy, limitation
    flaws, faults, faultiness, irregularity, abnormality, distortion, deformity, malformation, misshapenness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A break or other defect in an electrical circuit or piece of machinery.
      ‘a fire caused by an electrical fault’
      • ‘Time stood still for beer-lovers on campus last week, as the beer-taps at Eastside broke down due to an electrical fault.’
      • ‘Problems on the railways were further compounded by electrical faults at Oxenholme on Sunday and Monday.’
      • ‘They say faults could lead to electric shocks or a risk of fire.’
      • ‘It was also known to have a history of power and electrical faults.’
      • ‘They believe the fire was started by a cigarette butt or an electrical fault.’
      • ‘The alarm was raised around 6.45 pm after an electrical fault caused the machine to ignite at the property in Hermes Way.’
      • ‘Over 85 per cent of all fire deaths occur in the home, and up to four per cent of fire deaths in London are caused by electrical wiring or appliance faults.’
      • ‘These included everything from brake and electrical faults to corrosion of the load-bearing points on their chassis.’
      • ‘It is believed the cause of the fire was an electrical fault in the wiring of an electric immersion heater.’
      • ‘The problem, affecting 26 lights, was due to a circuit fault and was fixed by EDF Energy staff by September 30th.’
      • ‘Investigators found cigarettes, a box of disposable lighters and an empty bottle of whisky in her flat, but no evidence of any electrical or gas faults.’
      • ‘The blaze was caused by a fault on an electric extractor fan and the brigade has now issued the family with smoke alarms.’
      • ‘The problems have been attributed to computer software failure and electrical faults.’
      • ‘But fire investigators found a number of other electrical faults and fire risks in the house, an inquest in Bradford was told yesterday.’
      • ‘It cost €162,186 last year to carry out standard maintenance and repairing electrical type faults on public lights in the county.’
      • ‘He dismissed speculations that the fire was ignited by electrical faults or caused by foul play.’
      • ‘If there is a fault in the computer power supply, or if the electric socket is wired incorrectly, the computer chassis can become live and give a fatal electric shock.’
      • ‘Forensic scientists said the cause of the blaze was a build up of fluff in the dryer, which ignited the machine, and not an electrical fault, the inquest heard.’
      • ‘All power supply circuits are protected by a ground fault detection system to prevent overloads and short circuits.’
      • ‘The testing ranged from correcting simulated electrical faults on a Mack truck to fixing ABS breaks and earth-moving equipment.’
      defect, flaw, imperfection, snag
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    2. 1.2 A misguided or dangerous action or habit.
      ‘it has been the great fault of our politicians that they have all wanted to do something’
      • ‘I felt very emotional during the service, my lip trembling on several occasions, and I slipped into my usual fault of speaking softly when that happens.’
      • ‘Indeed, if Monica has a fault, it's an excessively trusting nature, a habit of putting loyalty before sense.’
      defect, failing, imperfection, flaw, blemish, shortcoming, weakness, weak point, weak spot, frailty, foible, vice, limitation, lack, deficiency, achilles heel, chink in one's armour
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 (in tennis and similar games) a service of the ball not in accordance with the rules.
      • ‘All tosses should be hit: if they throw the ball up, it's going to be a fault if they catch it.’
    4. 1.4usually faults (in show jumping) a penalty point imposed for an error.
      • ‘No one was coming in from there without time faults.’
      • ‘At this level the riders are not timed, but penalties are awarded for faults such as refusal to jump or knocking down a fence.’
      • ‘Ward scored four faults on each mount with Sasha getting the higher placing based on a better time over the 15-jump course.’
      • ‘The pair had a rail down at the double combination to finish with four faults in a time of 41.72 seconds.’
      • ‘Ben showed great determination and skill over both courses putting up seven faults in show-jumping and a superb clear over the cross-country course.’
      • ‘That decision brought him home with no jumping faults, but garnered him 3.2 time faults for a final score of 50.41.’
      • ‘Torano scored four faults for one rail down at the sixth fence and finished with a time of 41.148 seconds.’
  • 2Responsibility for an accident or misfortune.

    ‘it was his fault she had died’
    ‘an ordinary man thrust into peril through no fault of his own’
    • ‘The officer replied saying it was not his fault but the rules were that we have not got enough points.’
    • ‘But it wasn't all my fault; the computer had again malfunctioned, and I was actually up at almost 15,000 feet.’
    • ‘The organisation does not compensate uninsured drivers who are involved in accidents and hurt through no fault of their own.’
    • ‘I admit that some of the antagonism between myself and various health services has been my fault.’
    • ‘Sorry, but it's not my fault you don't service Minneapolis.’
    • ‘Not all SEOs are bad, but if you fail to research and you buy bad services that is the fault of the buyer.’
    • ‘Or perhaps it is the fault of the central character, Oliver himself.’
    • ‘Any horrible things that happen to these hapless characters are my fault!’
    • ‘Most of the time, a fall in popularity is the own fault of the game developers.’
    • ‘These 18 people died through no fault of their own.’
    • ‘It isn't my fault these characters have a mind of their own.’
    • ‘If users happened to be trading pirated music it was no more their fault than it's the fault of the postal service if people mail home-taped cassettes to one another.’
    • ‘Maybe it's my own fault for reading books that don't feature an elf or an alien on the cover.’
    • ‘I never really got into it, though I gather that was more my fault than the game's.’
    • ‘It's not their fault that the rules are archaic.’
    • ‘Through no fault of their own, these defendants were not trained in the regulations that govern the demolition of chimneys.’
    • ‘These signs will provide some recognition for road victims who died through no fault of their own.’
    • ‘That fact, however, does not, in my judgment, acquit the claimant of any responsibility or fault for the accident that so arises.’
    • ‘He said that the availability of harmful material on the internet was no more the fault of the internet service provider than it was of the personal computer being used.’
    • ‘But fault was still a feature in many divorce cases, since irretrievable breakdown had to be shown in one of five ways.’
    responsibility, liability, culpability, blameworthiness, guilt
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  • 3Geology
    An extended break in a body of rock, marked by the relative displacement and discontinuity of strata on either side of a particular surface.

    • ‘Transform faults, on the other hand, slide horizontally against one another.’
    • ‘Questions have also been raised over the possibility of a earthquake fault line nearby.’
    • ‘Iranian leaders have promised to rebuild the town, which is on a major earthquake fault line.’
    • ‘Unlike ridges and trenches, transform faults offset the crust horizontally, without creating or destroying crust.’
    • ‘Most transform faults are found on the ocean floor.’

verb

[with object]
  • 1Criticize for inadequacy or mistakes.

    ‘her colleagues and superiors could not fault her dedication to the job’
    ‘you cannot fault him for the professionalism of his approach’
    • ‘So I don't fault him for his toughness and perhaps his arrogance.’
    • ‘A correspondent rightly faults me for not giving the direct quotation.’
    • ‘We were beaten fair and square but I can't fault the lads for effort.’
    • ‘I cannot fault the arithmetic logic that as the population increases, so should the number of representatives in Parliament.’
    • ‘Governments are rightly faulted for their dismal economic performance.’
    • ‘But critics fault military leaders for discouraging such actions and failing to present alternatives.’
    • ‘One can hardly fault them for not having foreseen this shift.’
    • ‘Nor do I fault them for the work they've done in exposing the rot.’
    • ‘So he can't fault us for raising these questions now.’
    • ‘Hence, it is difficult to fault him for taking part in the decision.’
    • ‘The intentions were good, which is why Brooke couldn't really fault him.’
    • ‘Of course, the group is composed of ‘creative types’ so you can't fault them for being creative with the truth.’
    • ‘In a keenly fought contest, neither team could be faulted for the lack of effort.’
    • ‘They were wrong, but you can't fault their logic.’
    • ‘You could hardly fault Smith for wallowing in the music and the magic of this remarkable moment.’
    • ‘While I can't fault her for professionalism, at the very least I would have expected a smile, or, really, any show of emotion at all.’
    • ‘Still, we can hardly fault the school for its pessimism.’
    • ‘Still, you can't really fault the lady with the torch on this one.’
    • ‘Ultimately they love their cats and I can't fault them for that.’
    • ‘I can't fault you for what you thought was the truth.’
    find fault with, find lacking
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    1. 1.1archaic no object Do wrong.
      ‘the people of Caesarea faulted greatly when they called King Herod a god’
      • ‘She faulted, and the linesman, as ever, shouted ‘out’.’
      • ‘Each time she faulted, she would silently curse herself as the wrong note amplified itself in the empty hall.’
  • 2be faultedGeology
    (of a rock formation) be broken by a fault or faults.

    ‘a complex pattern of faulting’
    ‘rift valleys where the crust has been stretched and faulted’
    • ‘Does lithology account for the very different patterns of faulting in the Permian sandstones and dolostones?’
    • ‘The original form of these basins has been modified by subsequent faulting, Red Sea rift flank uplift, and erosion.’
    • ‘The seismic data show faulting of the subsurface sediments, possibly as dikes were injected into the center of the basin.’
    • ‘At the other extreme, reverse faulting could cause the pattern of exhumation and basin inversion.’
    • ‘The structural relations of these formations are complicated by extensive thrust faulting.’

Phrases

  • at fault

    • 1Responsible for an undesirable situation or event; in the wrong.

      ‘we recover compensation from the person at fault’
      • ‘It is wrong, and the person committing the crime is entirely at fault.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the officials at fault try to discharge their public duty by denying responsibility.’
      • ‘It is not always the players who are at fault and referees must he accountable.’
      • ‘Let's just hope we eventually have a clear picture of went wrong and who was at fault.’
      • ‘I think the local government officials were still deeply at fault in some ways.’
      • ‘The second exception to the general rule occurs when a party is at fault in employing wrong or defective procedures.’
      • ‘The public demands that someone is held to account for these things no matter who is at fault.’
      • ‘If anyone is at fault in this situation, it's the restaurateur who has chosen a wine that may or may not be good.’
      • ‘If both have been at fault then both should be held responsible.’
      • ‘In my mind, I knew that I wasn't at fault, but that didn't stop me feeling deeply responsible.’
      to blame, blameworthy, blameable, censurable, reproachable
      View synonyms
    • 2Mistaken or defective.

      ‘he suspected that his calculator was at fault’
      • ‘If one pedal felt right and the other wrong then the pedal is probably at fault.’
      • ‘Such behaviour sounds scarcely credible, but I'm sure memory isn't at fault here.’
      • ‘He said there may be a charge, but if it's their equipment at fault there won't be a charge.’
      • ‘It is not the mechanism of A-levels which is at fault but, rather, the conscious decision to change the way they are marked.’
  • find fault

    • Make an adverse criticism or objection, sometimes unfairly or destructively.

      ‘he finds fault with everything I do’
      • ‘It is all too easy to criticise or find fault in what others do.’
      • ‘Its hard for a critic not to find fault, kind of removes the point really.’
      • ‘Certainly envy seeks to spoil it by finding fault and criticising every blemish.’
      • ‘He often complained that she never left him alone and found fault with everything he did.’
      • ‘Elders often found fault with young people for watching objectionable movies or reading pornographic books.’
      • ‘I've no doubt some will, but losers always find fault in every thing and whinge and bawl on almost every thing.’
      • ‘Nobody can find fault with those who want to protest in public.’
      • ‘Anyone who found fault with his behaviour or values was ‘middle-class’ or ‘common’.’
      • ‘He was never satisfied and found fault with everything.’
      • ‘She even found fault with the way he performed household chores.’
      fault, find lacking
      View synonyms
  • — to a fault

    • (of someone who displays a particular commendable quality) to an extent verging on excess.

      ‘you're kind, caring and generous to a fault’
      • ‘Nevertheless, incumbent officeholders, candidates, and aspirants are pragmatic to a fault, and their main concern is with winning elections.’
      • ‘He can be alternately naïve, guarded, generous to a fault and miserable - perky and jumpy one moment and depressing the next.’
      • ‘At church, he hovered around Ruth like a fly, attentive to a fault.’
      • ‘Unlike most of the places I've been, however, these villagers were more controlled and polite to a fault.’
      • ‘He was generous to a fault: invite him to dinner, and he would come proffering a box of chocolates the size of the coffee-table.’
      • ‘She's beautiful, intelligent, strong, generous to a fault, kind, and the list goes on.’
      • ‘She was generous to a fault and belonged to a generation of people who never counted the cost of community involvement but gave themselves wholeheartedly to the overall good.’
      • ‘When I was in high school, my honors English teacher once said to me that my writing was ‘concise to a fault.’’
      • ‘For all that, he could be very charming - he told great stories, had a voracious appetite for arts and culture, and was often generous to a fault.’
      • ‘You are loyal to a fault to your friends, merciless to your enemies.’
      excessively, unduly, immoderately, overly, in the extreme, out of all proportion, overmuch, needlessly
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Origin

Middle English faut(e) ‘lack, failing’, from Old French, based on Latin fallere ‘deceive’. The -l- was added (in French and English) in the 15th century to conform with the Latin word, but did not become standard in English until the 17th century, remaining silent in pronunciation until well into the 18th.

Pronunciation

fault

/fɔlt//fôlt/