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American Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Dictionary 1828

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Fail


FAIL, verb intransitive [Latin fallo; Gr. whence; Eng. felony. It seems to be allied to fall, fallow, pale, and many other words.]

1. To become deficient; to be insufficient; to cease to be abundant for supply; or to be entirely wanting. We say, in a dry season, the springs and streams fail or are failing, before they are entirely exhausted. We say also, the springs failed, when they entirely ceased to flow. Crops fail wholly or partially.

2. To decay; to decline; to sink; to be diminished. We say of a sick person, his strength fails daily.

3. To decline; to decay; to sink; to become weaker; as, the patient fails every hour.

4. To be extinct; to cease; to be entirely wanting; to be no longer produced.

Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. Psalms 12:1.

5. To be entirely exhausted; to be wanting; to cease from supply.

Money failed in the land of Egypt. Genesis 47:16.

6. To cease; to perish; to be lost.

Lest the remembrance of his grief should fail

7. To die.

They shall all fail together. Isaiah 31:3.

8. To decay; to decline; as, the sight fails in old age.

9. To become deficient or wanting; as, the heart or the courage fails.

10. To miss; not to produce the effect. the experiment was made with care, but failed, or failed to produce the effect, or failed of the effect.

11. To be deficient in duty; to omit or neglect. the debtor failed to fulfil his promise.

12. To miss; to miscarry; to be frustrated or disappointed. The enemy attacked the fort, but failed in his design, or failed of success.

13. To be neglected; to fall short; not to be executed. the promises of a man of probity seldom fail

The soul or the spirit fails, when a person is discouraged. The eyes fail when the desires and expectations are long delayed, and the person is disappointed.

14. To become insolvent or bankrupt. When merchants and traders fail they are said to become bankrupt. When other men fail they are said to become insolvent.

FAIL, verb transitive

1. To desert; to disappoint; to cease or to neglect or omit to afford aid, supply or strength. it is said, fortune never fails the brave. Our friends sometimes fail us, when we most need them. The aged attempt to walk, when their limbs fail them. In bold enterprises, courage should never fail the hero.

2. to omit; not to perform.

The inventive God, who never fails his part.

3. to be wanting to.

There shall never fail thee a man on the throne. 1 Kings 2:4.

[In the transitive use of this verb there is really an ellipsis of from or to, or other word. In strictness, the verb is not transitive, and the passive particple is, I believe, never used.]

FAIL, noun Omission; non-performance.

1. He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites. Joshua 3:10.

2. Miscarriage; failure; deficience; want; death.

[In these senses little used.]