verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

Origin of default

1175–1225; Middle English defau(l)te < Anglo-French defalte, Old French defaute, derivative of defaillir, after faute, faillir. See de-, fault, fail
Related formsnon·de·fault·ing, adjective, nounpre·de·fault, noun, verbun·de·fault·ed, adjectiveun·de·fault·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for default

Contemporary Examples of default

Historical Examples of default

British Dictionary definitions for default



a failure to act, esp a failure to meet a financial obligation or to appear in a court of law at a time specified
absence or lack
by default in the absence of opposition or a better alternativehe became prime minister by default
in default of through or in the lack or absence of
judgment by default law a judgment in the plaintiff's favour when the defendant fails to plead or to appear
lack, want, or need
(also ˈdiːfɔːlt) computing
  1. the preset selection of an option offered by a system, which will always be followed except when explicitly altered
  2. (as modifier)default setting


(intr; often foll by on or in) to fail to make payment when due
(intr) to fail to fulfil or perform an obligation, engagement, etcto default in a sporting contest
law to lose (a case) by failure to appear in court
(tr) to declare that (someone) is in default

Word Origin for default

C13: from Old French defaute, from defaillir to fail, from Vulgar Latin dēfallīre (unattested) to be lacking
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

Word Origin and History for default

early 13c., "offense, crime, sin," later (late 13c.) "failure, failure to act," from Old French defaute (12c.) "fault, defect, failure, culpability, lack, privation," from Vulgar Latin *defallita "a deficiency or failure," past participle of *defallere, from Latin de- "away" (see de-) + fallere "to deceive, to cheat; to put wrong, to lead astray, cause to be mistaken; to escape notice of, be concealed from" (see fail (v.)). The financial sense is first recorded 1858; the computing sense is from 1966.


late 14c., "be lacking, be missing," also "become weak," from default (n.). Related: Defaulted; defaulting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

default in Culture


Failure to pay a debt when it is due.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with default


see in default of.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.