1. The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends: the failure of an experiment.
2. One that fails: a failure at one's career.
3. The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short: a crop failure.
4. A cessation of proper functioning or performance: a power failure.
5. Nonperformance of what is requested or expected; omission: failure to report a change of address.
6. The act or fact of failing to pass a course, test, or assignment.
7. A decline in strength or effectiveness.
8. The act or fact of becoming bankrupt or insolvent.
[Alteration of failer, default, from Anglo-Norman, from Old French faillir, to fail; see FAIL.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.