Meaning of FAILURE in English


fail ‧ ure S3 W2 /ˈfeɪljə $ -ər/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ fail , ↑ failure , ↑ failing ; adjective : ↑ failed , ↑ unfailing ; verb : ↑ fail ; adverb : unfaillingly]

1 . LACK OF SUCCESS [uncountable and countable] a lack of success in achieving or doing something OPP success :

Successful people often aren’t very good at dealing with failure.

failure to do something

the conference’s failure to reach an agreement

2 . UNSUCCESSFUL PERSON/THING [countable] someone or something that is not successful OPP success :

I always felt a bit of a failure at school.

3 . failure to do something an act of not doing something which should be done or which people expect you to do:

Failure to produce proof of identity could result in prosecution.

4 . BUSINESS [uncountable and countable] a situation in which a business has to close because of a lack of money:

Business failures in Scotland rose 10% last year.

5 . MACHINE/BODY PART [uncountable and countable] an occasion when a machine or part of your body stops working properly:

The cause of the crash was engine failure.

heart/kidney/liver etc failure

He died from kidney failure.

failure in

a failure in the computer system

6 . CROPS [uncountable and countable] an occasion when crops do not grow or produce food, for example because of bad weather:

a series of crop failures

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COLLOCATIONS (for Meanings 1 & 2)

■ verbs

▪ end in/result in failure

A series of rescue attempts ended in failure.

▪ be doomed to failure (=be certain to fail)

The rebellion was doomed to failure from the start.

▪ admit failure

He was too proud to admit failure.

▪ accept failure

Being able to accept failure is part of life.

▪ avoid failure

She was anxious to avoid failure.

■ adjectives

▪ complete/total/utter failure

The project ended in total failure.

▪ abject/dismal failure (=used to emphasize how bad a failure is)

The experiment was considered a dismal failure.

▪ a personal failure (=a failure that is someone's personal fault)

He considered his inability to form long-term relationships to be a personal failure.

▪ economic failure

Economic failure drove the government out of office.

■ phrases

▪ fear of failure

Fear of failure should not deter you from trying.

▪ the risk/possibility of failure

The risk of failure for a new product is very high.


The possibility of failure was sufficiently high for the auditors to warn investors.

▪ an admission of failure

Dropping out of college would be an admission of failure.

▪ a history of failure (=a situation in which someone has failed many times in the past)

Some children have a history of failure at school.

▪ a string of failures (=a series of failures)

The team has had a string of failures in recent games.

▪ a sense of failure

People may feel a sense of failure if they admit they have ended up in a job they hate.

▪ the consequences of failure

The political consequences of failure would be defeat at the next election.

■ failure + NOUN

▪ a failure rate

There is a high failure rate in the restaurant industry.

• • •


▪ failure noun [countable] someone or something that is not successful:

The book was a complete failure.


I felt a complete failure.

▪ flop noun [countable] informal something that is not successful because people do not like it – used especially about a film, play, product, or performance:

Despite the hype, the movie was a flop at the box office.


Their next computer was a flop.

▪ disaster noun [countable] used when saying that something is extremely unsuccessful:

Our first date was a disaster.


Their marriage was a total disaster.

▪ fiasco noun [countable usually singular] something that is completely unsuccessful and goes very badly wrong – used especially about things that have been officially planned, which go very wrong:

The baggage system broke down on the first day the airport was open. It was a complete fiasco.


The fiasco came close to ending de Gaulle's political career.

▪ debacle noun [countable usually singular] formal an event or situation that is a complete failure, because it does not happen in the way that it was officially planned:

the banking debacle that has put our economy at risk

▪ shambles noun [singular] especially British English if a situation or event is a shambles, it is completely unsuccessful because it has been very badly planned or organized, and no one seems to know what to do:

The first few shows were a shambles, but things soon got better.

▪ washout noun [singular] informal a failure – used when something is so bad that it would be better if it had not happened:

The play wasn’t a complete washout; the acting was okay.


His most recent and ambitious project, a big-budget Hollywood film, was a washout with both critics and audiences alike.

▪ turkey noun [countable] informal something that is so bad and unsuccessful that you think the people involved should be embarrassed about it – a very informal use:

At the time most people thought the car was a complete turkey.


Since then he has appeared in a string of turkeys.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.