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fault plane

noun, Geology.
See under fault (def 6).
Origin of fault plane
First recorded in 1885-90


[fawlt] /fɔlt/
a defect or imperfection; flaw; failing:
a fault in the brakes; a fault in one's character.
responsibility for failure or a wrongful act:
It is my fault that we have not finished.
an error or mistake:
a fault in addition.
a misdeed or transgression:
to confess one's faults.
  1. a ball that when served does not land in the proper section of an opponent's court.
  2. a failure to serve the ball according to the rules, as from within a certain area.
Geology, Mining. a break in the continuity of a body of rock or of a vein, with dislocation along the plane of the fracture (fault plane)
Manège. (of a horse jumping in a show) any of a number of improper executions in negotiating a jump, as a tick, knockdown, refusal, or run-out.
Electricity. a partial or total local failure in the insulation or continuity of a conductor or in the functioning of an electric system.
Hunting. a break in the line of scent; a losing of the scent; check.
Obsolete. lack; want.
verb (used without object)
to commit a fault; blunder; err.
Geology. to undergo faulting.
verb (used with object)
Geology. to cause a fault in.
to find fault with, blame, or censure.
at fault,
  1. open to censure; blameworthy:
    to be at fault for a mistake.
  2. in a dilemma; puzzled:
    to be at fault as to where to go.
  3. (of hounds) unable to find the scent.
find fault, to seek and make known defects or flaws; complain; criticize:
He constantly found fault with my behavior.
to a fault, to an extreme degree; excessively:
She was generous to a fault.
1250-1300; Middle English faute < Anglo-French, Middle French < Vulgar Latin *fallita, noun use of feminine of *fallitus, for Latin falsus, past participle of fallere to be wrong
Related forms
postfault, noun
1. blemish; frailty, shortcoming. Fault, failing, foible, weakness, vice imply shortcomings or imperfections in a person. Fault is the common word used to refer to any of the average shortcomings of a person; when it is used, condemnation is not necessarily implied: Of his many faults the greatest is vanity. Foible, failing, weakness all tend to excuse the person referred to. Of these foible is the mildest, suggesting a weak point that is slight and often amusing, manifesting itself in eccentricity rather than in wrongdoing: the foibles of artists. Weakness suggests that the person in question is unable to control a particular impulse, and gives way to self-indulgence: a weakness for pretty women. Failing is closely akin to fault, except that it is particularly applied to humanity at large, suggesting common, often venial, shortcomings: Procrastination and making excuses are common failings. Vice (which may also apply to a sin in itself, apart from a person: the vice of gambling ) is the strongest term, and designates a habit that is truly detrimental or evil.
1. virtue, strength, merit. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fault plane
Historical Examples
  • Normal faults occur in response to pulling or tension; the overlying block moves down the dip of the fault plane.

    Earthquakes Kaye M. Shedlock
  • Thrust (reverse) faults occur in response to squeezing or compression; the overlying block moves up the dip of the fault plane.

    Earthquakes Kaye M. Shedlock
  • The angle (ff´v) which the fault plane makes with the vertical is the hade.

    The Elements of Geology William Harmon Norton
  • Thus, in Figure 185, the rigid earth block under lateral thrust has found it easier to break along the fault plane than to fold.

    The Elements of Geology William Harmon Norton
British Dictionary definitions for fault plane


an imperfection; failing or defect; flaw
a mistake or error
an offence; misdeed
responsibility for a mistake or misdeed; culpability
(electronics) a defect in a circuit, component, or line, such as a short circuit
(geology) a fracture in the earth's crust resulting in the relative displacement and loss of continuity of the rocks on either side of it
(tennis, squash, badminton) an invalid serve, such as one that lands outside a prescribed area
(in showjumping) a penalty mark given for failing to clear or refusing a fence, exceeding a time limit, etc
(hunting) an instance of the hounds losing the scent
deficiency; lack; want
at fault
  1. guilty of error; culpable
  2. perplexed
  3. (of hounds) having temporarily lost the scent
find fault, to seek out minor imperfections or errors (in); carp (at)
to a fault, excessively
(geology) to undergo or cause to undergo a fault
(transitive) to find a fault in, criticize, or blame
(intransitive) to commit a fault
Word Origin
C13: from Old French faute, from Vulgar Latin fallita (unattested), ultimately from Latin fallere to fail
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fault plane



late 13c., faute, "deficiency," from Old French faute (12c.) "opening, gap; failure, flaw, blemish; lack, deficiency," from Vulgar Latin *fallita "a shortcoming, falling," noun use of fem. past participle, from Latin falsus "deceptive, feigned, spurious," past participle of fallere "deceive, disappoint" (see fail).

The -l- was restored 16c., probably in imitation of Latin, but was not pronounced till 18c. Sense of "physical defect" is from early 14c.; that of "moral culpability" is first recorded late 14c. Geological sense is from 1796. The use in tennis (c.1600) is closer to the etymological sense.



late 14c., Scottish, "be deficient;" see fault (n.). Meaning "find fault with" is from mid-15c. Related: Faulted; faulter; faulting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fault plane in Science

A fracture in a rock formation along which there has been movement of the blocks of rock on either side of the plane of fracture. Faults are caused by plate-tectonic forces. See more at normal fault, reverse fault, strike-slip fault, thrust fault, transform fault. See Note at earthquake.

Our Living Language  : Bedrock, the solid rock just below the soil, is often cracked along surfaces known as planes. Cracks can extend up to hundreds of kilometers in length. When tensional and compressional stresses cause rocks separated by a crack to move past each other, the crack is known as a fault. Faults can be horizontal, vertical, or oblique. The movement can occur in the sudden jerks known as earthquakes. Normal faults, or tensional faults, occur when the rocks above the fault plane move down relative to the rocks below it, pulling the rocks apart. Where there is compression and folding, such as in mountainous regions, the rocks above the plane move upward relative to the rocks below the plane; these are called reverse faults. Strike-slip faults occur when shearing stress causes rocks on either side of the crack to slide parallel to the fault plane between them. Transform faults are strike-slip faults in which the crack is part of a boundary between two tectonic plates. A well-known example is the San Andreas Fault in California. Geologists use sightings of displaced outcroppings to infer the presence of faults, and they study faults to learn the history of the forces that have acted on rocks.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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fault plane in Culture

fault definition

In geology, a place where sections of the crust of the Earth move relative to each other. (See earthquake and San Andreas fault.)

Note: Faults tend to occur near the edges of tectonic plates.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with fault plane
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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