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Definition of "fail-safe" []

  • Capable of compensating automatically and safely for a failure, as of a mechanism or power source. (adjective)
  • Acting to discontinue a military attack on the occurrence of any of various predetermined conditions. (adjective)
  • Guaranteed not to fail: "There is no fail-safe mechanism guaranteed either to contain or to restore presidential authority” ( Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.) (adjective)
  • A fail-safe mechanism. (noun)
  • To compensate automatically for failure. (verb-intransitive)
  • Designed to return to a safe condition in the event of a failure or malfunction (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

  • (of a nuclear weapon) capable of being deactivated in the event of a failure or accident (adjective)
  • Unlikely to fail; foolproof (adjective)
  • To return to a safe condition in the event of a failure or malfunction (verb)

www.Collinsdictionary.com (c) HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 2016

Use "fail-safe" in a sentence
  • "But it is somewhat sobering to see all these so-called 'fail-safe' mechanisms failing.''"
  • "Cameron was the maker of the blowout preventer, the so-called fail-safe device that neglected to automatically shut down the well."
  • "Cameron made the blowout preventer for the well, a so-called fail-safe device that failed to automatically shut down the well."