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Definition of "fail-safe" [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)

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.

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."