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day in, day out, every day without fail
A phrase used to describe something that happens routinely or regularly. Day in, day out, every day without fail, I pass that same woman walking her dog. My mom started driving us to school because we would miss the bus day in, day out, every day without fail.
An especially big or embarrassing blunder. I can't believe I called the CEO by the wrong name! What an epic fail. I tried to bake a cake for my sister's birthday, but I accidentally used salt instead of sugar. Epic fail.
1. An exclamation, perhaps of annoyance or frustration, when something has gone wrong. I called him Mark, but apparently his name is Steven. Ugh, fail! I tried to bake a cake for my sister's birthday, but I accidentally used salt instead of sugar. Fail.
2. noun A mistake or blunder. Something that has gone wrong. I called him Mark, but apparently his name is Steven! What a fail. I tried to bake a cake for my sister's birthday, but I accidentally used salt instead of sugar, and it was a big fail.
fail (someone) on (something)
To give someone a failing grade on a school assignment. You clearly put zero effort into this essay—that's why I failed you on it.
fail at life
slang To fail in a way that is exaggeratedly likened to one's entire life being a failure. I can't believe I blew my audition! Ugh, I fail at life. I overheard you struggling to ask Kim to the prom, and, yeah, you fail at life, dude.
fail in (something)
1. To not have high enough grades to pass a particular class. My parents got my report card and grounded me because I'm failing in two classes.
2. To not award a student a passing grade in a particular class. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "fail" and "in." I failed you in biology because you missed so many classes this semester.
3. To not be successful in an attempt to do something. So far, I've failed in my efforts to find an internship for the summer.
fail of success
To not reach a goal or accomplishment. I know you worked hard on the fundraiser, so I'm really sorry to hear that you failed of success. After not making the team last year, I'm really hoping I don't fail of success this time around.
To have to leave a school or university because one does not have passing grades. One B won't kill you—it's not like you're going to fail out of college or something.
In a computer system, to switch automatically to a spare, backup, or alternative component when another one fails. We've put new protocols in place to ensure that the computer will fail over to functioning memory blocks in the event of a critical error.
fail the smell test
To be morally questionable, unacceptable, or untrustworthy. The new pro-drilling bill that's being put through Congress certainly fails the smell test, and many are suspicious that Big Oil has been responsible for its inception.
fail to see
To be incapable of understanding or unwilling to accept something. Mary, I fail to see what your fear of spiders has to do with your unwillingness to go on this trip. Congressman, I fail to see how your opponent, as you claim, is in any way responsible for the economic slump in your state.
fall at the final hurdle
To fail to accomplish some task or goal at the very end of the attempt. Negotiations between the two warring countries fell at the final hurdle due to disagreements over cross-border taxation.
fall at the first hurdle
To fail to accomplish some task or goal at the very beginning of the attempt. John had his business plan all laid out, but he fell at the first hurdle when the bank refused to grant him a loan.
fall at the last hurdle
To fail to accomplish some task or goal at the very end of the attempt. Negotiations between the two warring countries fell at the last hurdle due to disagreements over cross-border taxation.
he who fails to prepare prepares to fail
proverb When there is a lack of adequate preparation, failure becomes more likely. Your test is on Friday, but I highly suggest you start studying for it now. He who fails to prepare prepares to fail. Of course I made an itinerary for our trip—how else would we fit everything in? He who fails to prepare prepares to fail.
if all else fails
If all other options and plans are unsuccessful. The phrase is used to indicate what the last resort will be. If all else fails, we can always order pizza. A: "Will we have to do it manually?" B: "Only if all else fails."
Is always effective; always does what's desired or intended. If none of these things resolve the issue, turning your computer on and off again never fails. I'm telling you, drink this—it never fails to get rid of a hangover.
A hypothetical test meant to measure whether or not some question or thing provokes discernible embarrassment, discomfiture, or displeasure in a person. The old red-face test is a simple but subtle way of telling which employees are the most honest and work the hardest. Well, my proposal didn't pass the red-face test with the boss. I guess we can kiss that idea goodbye.
See also: test
Said of something that happens regularly and predictably with no deviations. I have passed the same woman walking her dog every day without fail for five years—but today she wasn't there. I'm really worried about her!
words fail me
I'm unable to articulate or express myself because I'm too surprised, upset, or intensely emotional. I wish I could convey how much it means to me having you all here, but words fail me at the moment. And to think that you would risk your whole future by drinking and then getting behind the wheel of a car—well, words fail me!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
fail in something
to have not earned passing or satisfactory grades in some school subject. George is failing in geometry. I hope I do not fail in math.
fail someone on something
to give someone an unsatisfactory grade on an assignment or test. She failed us all on the math assignment. The teacher failed half the class on the assignment.
something never fails
a particular thing always works. My old folk remedy for hiccups never fails.
for certain; absolutely. I'll be there at noon without fail. The plane leaves on time every day without fail.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
For certain, as in That check will arrive tomorrow morning without fail. This idiom today is used mainly to strengthen a statement. [Early 1700s]
words fail me
I can't put my thoughts or feelings into words, especially because of surprise or shock, as in When she showed up at the wedding with all three ex-husbands-well, words fail me. [Second half of 1900s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
without failabsolutely predictably; with no exception or cause for doubt.
Fail as a noun in the sense of ‘failure or deficiency’ is now only found in this phrase.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
if all else ˈfails(spoken) used to introduce an idea or a suggestion that you could try if nothing else works: Let’s try phoning her at this number and then emailing her. If all else fails, we can always contact her parents.
without ˈfailused for emphasizing that something always happens or must happen: She sends me a Christmas card every year without fail. ♢ You must be here by 8.30 without fail.
words ˈfail meI cannot express how I feel (because I am too surprised, angry, etc.): Words fail me! How could you have been so stupid?
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To fail to achieve some goal or effort: I am failing in all of my attempts to win the contest.
2. To achieve unsatisfactory grades in an academic subject: Because I am failing in math, I am seeing a tutor.
3. To give someone an unsatisfactory grade in an academic subject: My teacher failed me in algebra despite my hard work.
To be forced to leave an academic institution because of unsatisfactory grades: My cousin is failing out of law school.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
With no chance of failure: Be here at noon without fail.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
words fail me
An expression of surprise or shock, uttered when one does not know what to say: for example, “On their wedding day, she went to have breakfast with both of her former husbands—well, words fail me!” It dates from the second half of the twentieth century.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer