Fail vs Down - What's the difference?

fail | down |

As a noun fail

is .

As a proper noun down is

one of the counties of northern ireland.




(en verb)
  • (label) To be unsuccessful.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-08-10, volume=408, issue=8848, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= A new prescription , passage=As the world’s drug habit shows, governments are failing in their quest to monitor every London window-box and Andean hillside for banned plants. But even that Sisyphean task looks easy next to the fight against synthetic drugs. No sooner has a drug been blacklisted than chemists adjust their recipe and start churning out a subtly different one.}}
  • (label) Not to achieve a particular stated goal. (Usage note: The direct object of this word is usually an infinitive.)
  • (label) To neglect.
  • To cease to operate correctly.
  • (label) To be wanting to, to be insufficient for, to disappoint, to desert.
  • * Bible, 1 Kings ii. 4
  • There shall not fail thee a man on the throne.
  • * 1843 , (Thomas Carlyle), '', book 3, ch. II, ''Gospel of Mammonism
  • A poor Irish Widow […] went forth with her three children, bare of all resource, to solicit help from the Charitable Establishments of that City. At this Charitable Establishment and then at that she was refused; referred from one to the other, helped by none; — till she had exhausted them all; till her strength and heart failed her: she sank down in typhus-fever […]
  • *
  • , title=The Mirror and the Lamp , chapter=2 citation , passage=That the young Mr. Churchills liked—but they did not like him coming round of an evening and drinking weak whisky-and-water while he held forth on railway debentures and corporation loans. Mr. Barrett, however, by fawning and flattery, seemed to be able to make not only Mrs. Churchill but everyone else do what he desired. And if the arts of humbleness failed him, he overcame you by sheer impudence.}}
  • (label) To receive one or more non-passing grades in academic pursuits.
  • (label) To give a student a non-passing grade in an academic endeavour.
  • To miss attaining; to lose.
  • * Milton
  • though that seat of earthly bliss be failed
  • To be wanting; to fall short; to be or become deficient in any measure or degree up to total absence.
  • The crops failed last year.
  • * Bible, Job xiv. 11
  • as the waters fail from the sea
  • * Shakespeare
  • Till Lionel's issue fails , his should not reign.
  • (archaic) To be affected with want; to come short; to lack; to be deficient or unprovided; used with of .
  • * Berke
  • If ever they fail of beauty, this failure is not be attributed to their size.
  • (archaic) To fall away; to become diminished; to decline; to decay; to sink.
  • * Milton
  • When earnestly they seek / Such proof, conclude they then begin to fail .
  • (archaic) To deteriorate in respect to vigour, activity, resources, etc.; to become weaker.
  • A sick man fails .
  • (obsolete) To perish; to die; used of a person.
  • * Shakespeare
  • had the king in his last sickness failed
  • (obsolete) To err in judgment; to be mistaken.
  • * Milton
  • Which ofttimes may succeed, so as perhaps / Shall grieve him, if I fail not.
  • To become unable to meet one's engagements; especially, to be unable to pay one's debts or discharge one's business obligation; to become bankrupt or insolvent.
  • Usage notes

    * This is a catenative verb which takes the to infinitive . See


    * (to be unsuccessful) fall on one's face


    * (to be unsuccessful) succeed

    Derived terms

    * failure * fail-safe


  • (uncountable) (label) Poor quality; substandard workmanship.
  • The project was full of fail .
  • (label) A failure (condition of being unsuccessful)
  • A failure (something incapable of success)
  • A failure, especially of a financial transaction (a termination of an action).
  • A failing grade in an academic examination.
  • Adjective

    (en adjective)
  • That is a failure.
  • References

    * * *



    (wikipedia down)

    Etymology 1

    (etyl) doun, from (etyl) , from British Celtic dunon'' 'hill; hillfort' (compare Welsh ''din'' 'hill', Irish ''dún'' 'hill, fort'), from (etyl) *''dheue'' or ''dhwene . More at (town); akin to (dune).


  • Hill, rolling grassland
  • Churchill Downs', Upson '''Downs (from ''Auntie Mame , by Patrick Dennis).
  • * 1610 , , act 4 scene 1
  • And with each end of thy blue bow dost crown
    My bosky acres and my unshrubb'd down
  • * Ray
  • Hills afford prospects, as they must needs acknowledge who have been on the downs of Sussex.
  • * Tennyson
  • She went by dale, and she went by down .
  • (usually plural) Field, especially for racing.
  • (UK, mostly, in the plural) A tract of poor, sandy, undulating or hilly land near the sea, covered with fine turf which serves chiefly for the grazing of sheep.
  • * Sandys
  • Seven thousand broad-tailed sheep grazed on his downs .
  • A road for shipping in the English Channel or Straits of Dover, near Deal, employed as a naval rendezvous in time of war.
  • * Cook (First Voyage)
  • On the 11th [June, 1771] we run up the channel at noon we were abreast of Dover, and about three came to an anchor in the Downs , and went ashore at Deal.

    Etymology 2

    (etyl) .


  • (lb) From a higher position to a lower one; downwards.
  • *
  • It was April 22, 1831, and a young man was walking down Whitehall in the direction of Parliament Street. He wore shepherd's plaid trousers and the swallow-tail coat of the day, with a figured muslin cravat wound about his wide-spread collar.
  • * , chapter=6
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients , passage=She was so mad she wouldn't speak to me for quite a spell, but at last I coaxed her into going up to Miss Emmeline's room and fetching down a tintype of the missing Deacon man.}}
  • (lb) At a lower place or position.
  • South (as south is at the bottom of typical maps).
  • (lb) Away from the city (even if the location is to the North).
  • Into a state of non-operation.
  • (lb) The direction leading away from the principal terminus, away from milepost zero.
  • (lb) Get down.
  • Away from Oxford or Cambridge.
  • From a remoter or higher antiquity.
  • * (and other bibliograpic details) (Daniel Webster)
  • Venerable men! you have come down to us from a former generation.
  • From a greater to a less bulk, or from a thinner to a thicker consistence.
  • (Arbuthnot)
  • From less to greater detail.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-08-03, volume=408, issue=8847, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Boundary problems , passage=Economics is a messy discipline: too fluid to be a science, too rigorous to be an art. Perhaps it is fitting that economists’ most-used metric, gross domestic product (GDP), is a tangle too. GDP measures the total value of output in an economic territory. Its apparent simplicity explains why it is scrutinised down to tenths of a percentage point every month.}}
  • (lb)
  • Usage notes
    * Down' can be used with verbs in ways that change the meaning of the verb in ways not entirely predictable from the meanings of the ' down and the verb, though related to them. See .
    * (From a higher position to a lower one) up * (At a lower place) up * up * (Into a state of non-operation) up * up


    (English prepositions)
  • From the higher end to the lower of.
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=5 , passage=We expressed our readiness, and in ten minutes were in the station wagon, rolling rapidly down the long drive, for it was then after nine. We passed on the way the van of the guests from Asquith.}}
  • From one end to another of.
  • Antonyms
    * (From the higher end to the lower) up
    Derived terms
    * (from the higher end to the lower) sell down the river


    (en adjective)
  • Depressed, feeling low.
  • So, things got you down ? / Is Rodney Dangerfield giving you no respect? / Well, bunky, cheer up!
  • On a lower level than before.
  • The stock market is down .
    Prices are down .
  • Having a lower score than an opponent.
  • They are down by 3-0 with just 5 minutes to play.
    He was down by a bishop and a pawn after 15 moves.
    At 5-1 down , she produced a great comeback to win the set on a tiebreak.
  • (baseball, colloquial, following the noun modified) Out.
  • Two down and one to go in the bottom of the ninth.
  • (colloquial) With "on", negative about, hostile to
  • Ever since Nixon, I've been down on Republicans.
  • (not comparable, US, slang) Relaxed about, accepting of.
  • Are you down to hang out at the mall, Jamal?
    As long as you're down with helping me pick a phone, Tyrone.
  • (not comparable) Inoperable; out of order; out of service.
  • ''The system is down .
  • Finished]] (of a task); defeated or [[deal with, dealt with (of an opponent or obstacle); elapsed (of time). Often coupled with to go (remaining).
  • Two down and three to go. (Two tasks completed and three more still to be done.)
    Ten minutes down and nothing's happened yet.
  • (not comparable, military, police, slang, of a person) Wounded and unable to move normally; killed.
  • We have an officer down outside the suspect's house.
    There are three soldiers down and one walking wounded.
  • (not comparable, military, aviation, slang, of an aircraft) Mechanically failed, collided, shot down, or otherwise suddenly unable to fly.
  • We have a chopper down near the river .
  • Thoroughly practiced, learned or memorised; mastered.
  • It's two weeks until opening night and our lines are still not down yet.
  • * 2013 , P.J. Hoover, Solstice , (ISBN 0765334690), page 355:
  • I stay with Chloe the longest. When she's not hanging out at the beach parties, she lives in a Japanese garden complete with an arched bridge spanning a pond filled with koi of varying sizes and shapes. Reeds shoot out of the water, rustling when the fish swim through them, and river-washed stones are sprinkled in a bed of sand. Chloe has this whole new Japanese thing down .
  • (obsolete) Downright; absolute; positive.
  • a down denial
    (Beaumont and Fletcher)
    * (Depressed) up * (On a lower level) up * (Having a lower score) up * (Inoperable) up


    (en verb)
  • To drink or swallow, especially without stopping before the vessel containing the liquid is empty.
  • He downed an ale and ordered another.
  • To cause to come down; to knock down or subdue.
  • The storm downed several old trees along the highway.
  • * Sir Philip Sidney
  • To down proud hearts.
  • * Madame D'Arblay
  • I remember how you downed Beauclerk and Hamilton, the wits, once at our house.
  • (pocket billiards) To put a ball in a pocket; to pot a ball.
  • He downed two balls on the break.
  • (American football) To bring a play to an end by touching the ball to the ground or while it is on the ground.
  • He downed it at the seven-yard line.
  • To write off; to make fun of.
  • (obsolete) To go down; to descend.
  • (John Locke)
    * (drink) See also


    (en noun)
  • a negative aspect; a downer.
  • I love almost everything about my job. The only down is that I can't take Saturdays off.
  • (dated) A grudge ((on) someone).
  • * 1974 , (GB Edwards), The Book of Ebenezer Le Page , New York 2007, p. 10:
  • She had a down on me. I don't know what for, I'm sure; because I never said a word.
  • An act of swallowing an entire drink in one.
  • (American football) A single play, from the time the ball is snapped (the start) to the time the whistle is blown (the end) when the ball is down'', or ''is downed .
  • I bet after the third down , the kicker will replace the quarterback on the field.
  • (crosswords) A clue whose solution runs vertically in the grid.
  • I haven't solved 12 or 13 across, but I've got most of the downs .
  • An downstairs room of a two story house.
  • She lives in a two-up two-down .
  • down payment
  • Derived terms

    * down and out * down at heel * down for the count * down in the dumps * down in the mouth * down memory lane * down on one's luck * down payment * down pat * downed (US and Canadian football) * downer * down to the short strokes * first down (US and Canadian football) * fourth down (US football) * second down (US and Canadian football) * third down (US and Canadian football) * top-down * upside down


    * Andrea Tyler and Vyvyan Evans, "Spatial particles of orientation", in The Semantics of English Prepositions: Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning and Cognition , Cambridge University Press, 2003, 0-521-81430 8

    Etymology 3

    From (etyl) .


  • Soft, fluffy immature feathers which grow on young birds. Used as insulating material in duvets, sleeping bags and jackets.
  • (botany) The pubescence of plants; the hairy crown or envelope of the seeds of certain plants, such as the thistle.
  • The soft hair of the face when beginning to appear.
  • * Dryden
  • The first down begins to shade his face.
  • That which is made of down, as a bed or pillow; that which affords ease and repose, like a bed of down.
  • * Tennyson
  • When in the down I sink my head, / Sleep, Death's twin brother, times my breath.
  • * Southern
  • Thou bosom softness, down of all my cares!


    (en verb)
  • To cover, ornament, line, or stuff with down.
  • (Young)