Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

failure - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun     failure pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable/uncountable] a lack of success in doing something

    I’m too proud to admit failure.

    end/result in failure:

    Their first attempt to climb Everest ended in failure.

    failure to do something:

    She is depressed by her continued failure to find a job.

    failure of:

    The failure of the talks has made the situation worse.

    Synonyms and related words
  2. 2
    [countable/uncountable] a situation in which you do not do something that someone expects you to do
    failure of:

    He was angry about the failure of the UN to intervene in the crisis.

    failure to do something:

    Failure to comply with the rules can result in expulsion.

  3. 3
    [countable/uncountable] a situation in which something such as a machine or an organ in your body stops working correctly
    engine/brake/power failure:

    The crash seems to have been caused by an engine failure.

    heart/liver/kidney failure:

    He died from liver failure.

    1. a.
      a situation in which a business cannot continue operating

      Business failures soared by more than a third in the second half of this year.

      Synonyms and related words
    2. b.
      a situation in which crops do not finish growing, so that they cannot be used for food
  4. 4
    [countable] someone or something that has not achieved success

    The party was a total failure.

    I feel such a failure.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Open Dictionary

snap election

a general election … that is called earlier than expected

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play