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1. Used to describe an outcome that happens because one has not taken any steps to change or prevent it. If you don't start saving money now, while you're young, you'll be working till you're 90 by default.
2. Used to describe a contest that's outcome is determined by a competitor's absence. If the other team can't field enough players, then we'll win by default.
1 a game or competition can be won by default if there are no other competitors: The other team didn’t even turn up, so we won by default.
2 if something happens by default, it happens because you have not made any other decision or choices which would make things happen differently: It was never my ambition to get into teaching. I became a teacher more by default than by choice.