failing

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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

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 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 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 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
References in classic literature ?
Each new face of the thousands that came within the anthropoid's ken must be carefully scrutinized, much to the horror of many of his victims; but at last, failing, apparently, to discover whom he sought, the great ape relapsed into morbid indifference, only occasionally evincing interest in a passing face.
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.
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.
SHEA had just beaten me at chess, as usual, and, also as usual, I had gleaned what questionable satisfaction I might by twitting him with this indication of failing mentality by calling his attention to the nth time to that theory, propounded by certain scientists, which is based upon the assertion that phenomenal chess players are always found to be from the ranks of children under twelve, adults over seventy-two or the mentally defective--a theory that is lightly ignored upon those rare occasions that I win.