[ feyt-l ]
See synonyms for fatal on Thesaurus.com
  1. causing or capable of causing death; mortal; deadly: a fatal accident;a fatal dose of poison.

  2. causing destruction, misfortune, ruin, or failure: The withdrawal of funds was fatal to the project.

  1. decisively important; fateful: The fatal day finally arrived.

  2. proceeding from or decreed by fate; inevitable: a fatal series of events.

  3. influencing or concerned with fate; fatalistic.

  4. Obsolete. condemned by fate; doomed.

  5. Obsolete. prophetic.

Origin of fatal

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English or directly from Old French, from Latin fātālis “ordained by fate, decreed”; see origin at fate, -al1

synonym study For fatal

1. Fatal, deadly, lethal, mortal apply to something that has caused or is capable of causing death. Fatal may refer to either the future or the past; in either case, it emphasizes inevitability and the inescapable—the disastrous, whether death or dire misfortune: The accident was fatal. Such a mistake would be fatal. Deadly looks to the future, and suggests that which is likely to cause death (though not inevitably so): a deadly poison, disease. Like deadly, lethal looks to the future but, like many other words of Latin origin, suggests a more technical usage: a lethal dose; a gas that is lethal. Mortal looks to the past and refers to death that has actually occurred: He received a mortal wound. The disease proved to be mortal.

Other words for fatal

Opposites for fatal

Other words from fatal

  • fa·tal·ness, noun
  • non·fa·tal, adjective
  • non·fa·tal·ly, adverb
  • non·fa·tal·ness, noun
  • quasi-fatal, adjective
  • qua·si-fa·tal·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with fatal

Words Nearby fatal

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fatal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fatal


/ (ˈfeɪtəl) /

  1. resulting in or capable of causing death: a fatal accident

  2. bringing ruin; disastrous

  1. decisively important; fateful

  2. decreed by fate; destined; inevitable

Origin of fatal

C14: from Old French fatal or Latin fātālis, from fātum, see fate

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