[feyt-fuh l]


having momentous significance or consequences; decisively important; portentous: a fateful meeting between the leaders of the two countries.
fatal, deadly, or disastrous.
controlled or determined by destiny; inexorable.
prophetic; ominous.

Origin of fateful

First recorded in 1705–15; fate + -ful
Related formsfate·ful·ly, adverbfate·ful·ness, noun
Can be confusedfatal fateful fetal (see synonym study at fatal)

Synonyms for fateful

1, 4. See ominous.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fateful

Contemporary Examples of fateful

Historical Examples of fateful

  • On this fateful day, she alone was oppressed with strange forebodings.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew

    Josephine Preston Peabody

  • The continued shocks since that fateful night of the cards had told upon me.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • The fateful exodus of the day had evidently slipped his memory entirely.

    The Golden Age

    Kenneth Grahame

  • The fateful day had come and gone, yet London stood where it did before.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • The three weeks prior to the fateful fourteenth had been crowded with activities.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for fateful



having important consequences; decisively important
bringing death or disaster
controlled by or as if by fate
Derived Formsfatefully, adverbfatefulness, noun
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 fateful

1710s, "prophetic," from fate + -ful. Meaning "of momentous consequences" is from c.1800. Related: Fatefully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper