failfail1 /feɪl/ ●●●S2W1 verb1not succeed [intransitive]FAIL to not succeed in achieving somethingIt looks likely that the peace talks will fail.fail inHe failed in his attempt to regain the world title.fail to do somethingDoctors failed to save the girl’s life.Millions of people have tried to quit smoking and failed miserably (=been completely unsuccessful).his efforts to save his failing marriageIf all else fails, you may be advised to have an operation.2not do something [intransitive]FAIL to not do what is expected, needed, or wantedfail to do somethingThe letter failed to arrive.Firms that fail to take advantage of the new technology will go out of business.The government are failing in their duty to protect people.RegisterFail to do something is used mainly in writing and in formal contexts. In everyday English, people usually say do not do something instead: The letter failed to arrive. → The letter didn’t arrive.3exam/testa)[intransitive, transitive]FAIL to not pass a test or examinationI failed my driving test the first time I took it.He failed maths but passed all his other subjects.b)[transitive] to decide that someone has not passed a test or examinationHer work was so bad that I had no choice but to fail her.4 →I fail to see/understand5company/business [intransitive]BBC if a company or business fails, it is unable to continue because of a lack of money6machine/body part [intransitive]STOP MOVING if a part of a machine or an organ in your body fails, it stops workingThe engine failed on take-off.The hospital said that his kidneys were failing.7healthMI [intransitive] if your sight, memory, health etc is failing, it is gradually getting weaker or is not as good as it wasFailing eyesight forced him to retire early.8 →never fail to do something9 →your courage/will/nerve fails (you)10 →fail somebody11crops [intransitive]TAC if crops fail, they do not grow or produce food, for example because of bad weather12rains [intransitive]DN if the rains (=a lot of rain that falls at a particular time each year) fail, they do not come when expected or it does not rain enough → words fail meat word1(29)THESAURUSfail to not succeed – used about people, plans, methods etcThe plan failed.They failed to persuade her to change her mind.This method never fails.go wrong if something you do goes wrong, it fails after starting wellThe experiment went wrong when the chemicals combined to form a poisonous gas.not work if something does not work, it does not do what you want it to doThe drugs don’t work.I tried to fix it with glue, but that didn’t work.be unsuccessful /ˌʌnsəkˈsesfəl◂/ to not have the result you wantedHis first attempt to get a teaching job was unsuccessful.The search was unsuccessful.be a failure to be unsuccessful, with the result that you have wasted your effortsThe government’s 5-year plan to modernize the economy was a complete failure.backfire if a plan or action backfires, it does the opposite of what it was intended to doHis plan to get attention backfired, and instead of being promoted he lost his job.in vain if you try to do something in vain, you fail to do itThey tried in vain to save him.All her efforts had been in vain.→ See Verb table
failfail2 noun1 →without fail2[countable]SE an unsuccessful result in a test or examinationOPP passI got a fail in history.3[countable] informal an occasion when someone is not successful or does something badlyMy parenting has included some spectacular fails.
Examples from the Corpus
fail• Company failures have led to massive job losses.• Investigatorstraced the cause of the crash to engine failure.• He believes that if a starter has major-leaguetalent, nothing matters more than taking the ball every five days without fail.• He writes every week without fail.failfail3 interjection informalused for saying that someone has failed or done something badlyFrom King Business Dictionaryfailfail /feɪl/ verb1[intransitive]COMMERCE if a business fails, it is not successful and loses so much money that it has to closeThe company failed amid charges that the chairman had stolen $17 million.More than 10,000 companies failed with debts of more than 10 million yen. —failed adjective [only before a noun]the failed Bank of Credit & Commerce International2[intransitive] if something you try to do fails, it is not successfulA move to vote the chairman off the Bell Resources board failed.fail to do somethingA salesman may communicate perfectly well with a customer but fail to make a sale. —failed adjective [only before a noun]The firm collapsed after a failed bid for a rival insurer.3[intransitive] if something fails to happen, it does not happen, although you expected or wanted it tofail to do somethingThe new projects have failed to gain general acceptance from the board.If the recovery fails to cut the deficit sharply, a rise in taxes will be needed.4[intransitive]MANUFACTURING if equipment or a machine fails, it stops working because there is a fault5FARMING [intransitive] if crops fail, they do not grow or produce any foodThe corn harvest failed after a terrible drought.6[intransitive, transitive] to not pass an examination, test or INSPECTIONThe railway line failed its Board of Trade inspection earlier this year.→ See Verb tableOriginfail1(1200-1300)Old Frenchfaillir, from Latinfallere“to deceive, disappoint”