fair 1 (fâr)
adj. fair·er, fair·est
1. Of pleasing appearance, especially because of a pure or fresh quality; comely.
a. Light in color, especially blond: fair hair.
b. Of light complexion: fair skin.
3. Free of clouds or storms; clear and sunny: fair skies.
4. Free of blemishes or stains; clean and pure: one's fair name.
5. Promising; likely: We're in a fair way to succeed.
a. Having or exhibiting a disposition that is free of favoritism or bias; impartial: a fair mediator.
b. Just to all parties; equitable: a compromise that is fair to both factions.
7. Being in accordance with relative merit or significance: She wanted to receive her fair share of the proceeds.
8. Consistent with rules, logic, or ethics: a fair tactic.
9. Moderately good; acceptable or satisfactory: gave only a fair performance of the play; in fair health.
10. Superficially true or appealing; specious: Don't trust his fair promises.
11. Lawful to hunt or attack: fair game.
12. Archaic Free of all obstacles.
1. In a proper or legal manner: playing fair.
2. Directly; straight: a blow caught fair in the stomach.
tr.v. faired, fair·ing, fairs
To join (pieces) so as to be smooth, even, or regular: faired the aircraft's wing into the fuselage.
1. Archaic A beautiful or beloved woman.
2. Obsolete Loveliness; beauty.
fair off (or up)Idioms:
Chiefly Southern US To become clear. Used of weather.
fair and square
Just and honest.
To the greatest or fullest extent possible: Our team was beaten for fair in that tournament.
Something contrary to the rules: That was no fair.
[Middle English, from Old English fæger, lovely, pleasant.]
Synonyms: fair1, just1, equitable, impartial, unprejudiced, unbiased, objective
These adjectives mean free from favoritism, self-interest, or preference in judgment. Fair is the most general: a fair referee; a fair deal. Just stresses conformity with what is legally or ethically right or proper: "a just and lasting peace" (Abraham Lincoln).
Equitable implies justice dictated by reason, conscience, and a natural sense of what is fair: an equitable distribution of gifts among the children. Impartial emphasizes lack of favoritism: "the cold neutrality of an impartial judge" (Edmund Burke).
Unprejudiced means without preconceived opinions or judgments: an unprejudiced evaluation of the proposal. Unbiased implies absence of a preference or partiality: gave an unbiased account of her family problems. Objective implies detachment that permits impersonal observation and judgment: an objective jury. See Also Synonyms at average, beautiful.
Our Living Language American folk speech puts Standard English to shame in its wealth of words for describing weather conditions. When the weather goes from fair to cloudy, New Englanders say that it's "breedin' up a storm" (Maine informant in the Linguistic Atlas of New England). If the weather is clear, however, a New Englander might call it open. Southern fair off and fair up, meaning "to become clear," were originally Northeastern terms and were brought to the South as settlement expanded southward and westward. They are now "regionalized to the South," according to Craig M. Carver, author of American Regional Dialects. These phrases may have prompted the coining of milding and milding down, noted respectively in Texas and Virginia by the Dictionary of American Regional English.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.