- a ball that when served does not land in the proper section of an opponent's court.
- a failure to serve the ball according to the rules, as from within a certain area.
verb (used without object)
verb (used with object)
- open to censure; blameworthy: to be at fault for a mistake.
- in a dilemma; puzzled: to be at fault as to where to go.
- (of hounds) unable to find the scent.
Origin of fault
Synonyms for fault
Antonyms for fault
- guilty of error; culpable
- (of hounds) having temporarily lost the scent
Word Origin for fault
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.
A Closer Look: 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.
to a fault
Excessively, extremely, as in He was generous to a fault. This phrase, always qualifying an adjective, has been so used since the mid-1700s. Indeed, Oliver Goldsmith had this precise usage in The Life of Richard Nash (1762).
see at fault; find fault; to a fault.