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fault (fôlt)
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n.
1.
a. A character weakness, especially a minor one.
b. Something that impairs or detracts from physical perfection; a defect. See Synonyms at blemish.
c. A mistake; an error: a grammatical fault; a fault in his reasoning.
d. A minor offense or misdeed: committed her share of youthful faults.
2. Responsibility for a mistake or an offense; culpability. See Synonyms at blame.
3. Geology A fracture in the continuity of a rock formation caused by a shifting or dislodging of the earth's crust, in which adjacent surfaces are displaced relative to one another and parallel to the plane of fracture. Also called shift.
4. Electronics A defect in a circuit or wiring caused by imperfect connections, poor insulation, grounding, or shorting.
5. Sports A service of the ball that violates the rules in tennis and similar games.
6. Archaic A lack or deficiency.
v. fault·ed, fault·ing, faults
v.tr.
1. To find error or defect in; criticize or blame: faulted the author for poor research; faulted the book for inaccuracies.
2. Geology To produce a fault in; fracture.
v.intr.
1. To commit a mistake or an error.
2. Geology To shift so as to produce a fault.
3. Sports To commit a fault, as in tennis.
Idioms:
at fault
1. Deserving of blame; guilty: admitted to being at fault.
2. Confused and puzzled.
find fault
To seek, find, and complain about faults; criticize: found fault with his speech.
to a fault
To an excessive degree: generous to a fault.

[Middle English faulte, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *fallita, from variant of Latin falsa, feminine past participle of fallere, to deceive, fail.]
(click for a larger image)
fault
top: normal fault
center: reverse fault
bottom: strike-slip fault

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:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    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.

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