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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.
See also: fail, on

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.
See also: fail

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.
See also: fail, of, success

fail out

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.
See also: fail, out

fail over

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.
See also: fail, over

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.
See also: fail, smell, test

words fail (one)

One is too surprised, upset, or intensely emotional to articulate one's thoughts or sentiments coherently. I really wanted to convey how much it meant to me to have my entire family there, but words failed me. 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! A: "Words failed us when we found out Jane was pregnant." B: "Same here. She and her boyfriend have only been back together for about five minutes!"
See also: fail, word
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

fail out

To be forced to leave an academic institution because of unsatisfactory grades: My cousin is failing out of law school.
See also: fail, out
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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Shorter & Co (London) Limited, Greenwich SE3, failed to pay 560.28 to 6 workers.
Kids in Charge (Making a Choice for a Better Future) Ltd, Redbridge IG1, failed to pay [pounds sterling]552.15 to 1 worker.
Forever Warm Homes Ltd, Newry, Mourne and Down BT35, failed to pay [pounds sterling]535.68 to 1 worker.
Gordon Hotels Limited trading as The Queens Hotel, Bournemouth BH1, failed to pay [pounds sterling]534.18 to 3 workers.
Essex and Suffolk Quality Care Ltd., Tendring CO16, failed to pay [pounds sterling]517.4 to 2 workers.
Edmundson Electrical Limited, Cheshire East WA16, failed to pay [pounds sterling]507.09 to 1 worker.
Falkirk Football and Athletic Club (The) trading as Falkirk Athletic F.C., Falkirk FK2, failed to pay [pounds sterling]494.51 to 1 worker.
Y2K Hair & Beauty Limited, Wiltshire SN15, failed to pay [pounds sterling]483.5 to 1 worker.
Bridge End House Nursery Limited, Calderdale HD6, failed to pay [pounds sterling]41,938.73 to 2 workers.
Globebrow Limited, trading as Manor Adventure, Shropshire SY7, failed to pay [pounds sterling]33,889.80 to 111 workers.
Moy Park Limited, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon BT63, failed to pay [pounds sterling]33,547.57 to 338 workers.
Daniele Petteno Ltd, trading as Daniele Petteno Architecture Workshop, Wandsworth SW15, failed to pay [pounds sterling]28,410.25 to 12 workers.
Beautiful Spots Limited, trading as Benito Brow Bar, Islington B2, failed to pay [pounds sterling]27,184.28 to 97 workers.
Threshold Housing Project Limited, trading as Threshold, Tameside OL6, failed to pay [pounds sterling]26,033.75 to 41 workers.
Heather Park Community Services Limited, North Lanarkshire ML2, failed to pay [pounds sterling]26,018.63 to 73 workers.