Fault Fault, n. [OE. faut, faute, F. faute (cf. It., Sp., & Pg. falta), fr. a verb meaning to want, fail, freq., fr. L. fallere to deceive. See {Fail}, and cf. {Default}.] 1. Defect; want; lack; default. [1913 Webster]

One, it pleases me, for fault of a better, to call my friend. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

2. Anything that fails, that is wanting, or that impairs excellence; a failing; a defect; a blemish. [1913 Webster]

As patches set upon a little breach Discredit more in hiding of the fault. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

3. A moral failing; a defect or dereliction from duty; a deviation from propriety; an offense less serious than a crime. [1913 Webster]

4. (Geol. & Mining) (a) A dislocation of the strata of the vein. (b) In coal seams, coal rendered worthless by impurities in the seam; as, slate fault, dirt fault, etc. --Raymond. [1913 Webster]

5. (Hunting) A lost scent; act of losing the scent. [1913 Webster]

Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled, With much ado, the cold fault cleary out. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

6. (Tennis) Failure to serve the ball into the proper court. [1913 Webster]

7. (Elec.) A defective point in an electric circuit due to a crossing of the parts of the conductor, or to contact with another conductor or the earth, or to a break in the circuit. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

8. (Geol. & Mining) A dislocation caused by a slipping of rock masses along a plane of facture; also, the dislocated structure resulting from such slipping.

Note: The surface along which the dislocated masses have moved is called the

{fault plane}. When this plane is vertical, the fault is a

{vertical fault}; when its inclination is such that the present relative position of the two masses could have been produced by the sliding down, along the fault plane, of the mass on its upper side, the fault is a

{normal fault}, or {gravity fault}. When the fault plane is so inclined that the mass on its upper side has moved up relatively, the fault is then called a

{reverse fault} (or {reversed fault}), {thrust fault}, or {overthrust fault}. If no vertical displacement has resulted, the fault is then called a

{horizontal fault}. The linear extent of the dislocation measured on the fault plane and in the direction of movement is the

{displacement}; the vertical displacement is the

{throw}; the horizontal displacement is the

{heave}. The direction of the line of intersection of the fault plane with a horizontal plane is the

{trend} of the fault. A fault is a

{strike fault} when its trend coincides approximately with the strike of associated strata (i.e., the line of intersection of the plane of the strata with a horizontal plane); it is a

{dip fault} when its trend is at right angles to the strike; an

{oblique fault} when its trend is oblique to the strike. Oblique faults and dip faults are sometimes called

{cross faults}. A series of closely associated parallel faults are sometimes called

{step faults} and sometimes

{distributive faults}. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

{At fault}, unable to find the scent and continue chase; hence, in trouble or embarrassment, and unable to proceed; puzzled; thrown off the track.

{To find fault}, to find reason for blaming or complaining; to express dissatisfaction; to complain; -- followed by with before the thing complained of; but formerly by at. ``Matter to find fault at.'' --Robynson (More's Utopia).

Syn: -- Error; blemish; defect; imperfection; weakness; blunder; failing; vice.

Usage: {Fault}, {Failing}, {Defect}, {Foible}. A fault is positive, something morally wrong; a failing is negative, some weakness or falling short in a man's character, disposition, or habits; a defect is also negative, and as applied to character is the absence of anything which is necessary to its completeness or perfection; a foible is a less important weakness, which we overlook or smile at. A man may have many failings, and yet commit but few faults; or his faults and failings may be few, while his foibles are obvious to all. The faults of a friend are often palliated or explained away into mere defects, and the defects or foibles of an enemy exaggerated into faults. ``I have failings in common with every human being, besides my own peculiar faults; but of avarice I have generally held myself guiltless.'' --Fox. ``Presumption and self-applause are the foibles of mankind.'' --Waterland. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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