failing

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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. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

fail out

v.
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 classic literature ?
He attempted to dodge the long arms that reached for him; but, failing, drew a long knife that hung at his belt.
Von Horn's rash adventure had been suggested by the hope that he might, by bribing some of the natives with Barunda's uncle, make way with the treasure before Muda Saffir arrived to claim it, or, failing that, learn its exact whereabouts that he might return for it with an adequate force later.
"Oh, so thirsty!" murmured the failing voice--so thirsty!"
And which of our old folks, knowing all this, thought, as the spring subsided, of their own failing strength, and lessening life?
Bean, one of the Americans, was found a note-book in which had been penciled some sentences which admit us, in flesh and spirit, as it were, to the presence of these men during their last hours of life, and to the grisly horrors which their fading vision looked upon and their failing consciousness took cognizance of:
The Abyssin takes the honey, without failing to leave part of it for the bird, to reward him for his information.
Well, in failing to reveal all this to me you chose the worse course.