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Dictionaries :: Fail

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


fal (kalah, karath; ekleipo): "Fail" is both intransitive, "to fall short," "be wanting," and trans, "to be wanting to."

Of the many words translated "fail" in the Old Testament, kalah is the most frequent, meaning "to be consumed," "ended" (Job 11:20; 17:5; Ps 69:3; 71:9, etc.; Pr 22:8; Isa 15:6, etc.; Jer 14:6; La 2:11; 3:22; 4:17); it is the translation of karath, "to be cut off" (2Sa 3:29, of failure in succession; so 1Ki 2:4, etc.); ‘adhar, "to marshal," "to be missed" or "lacking" (Isa 34:16 the King James Version; Isa 40:26 the King James Version; Isa 59:15 the King James Version; Ze 3:5); of raphah, "to become faint" or "to make feeble" (De 31:6,8; "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee," Jos 1:5; 1Ch 28:20); of'-abhadh, "to perish," "be lost" (Ps 142:4, "Refuge hath failed me"; Eze 12:22, "Every vision faileth"). Many other Hebrew words are translated "fail," "faileth," for the most part in single instances.

In the New Testament, ekleipo, "to leave out" or "off," is thrice rendered "fail" (Lu 16:9 "when it shall fail"; Lu 22:32, "that thy faith fail not"; Heb 1:12, "Thy years shall not fail"); ekpipto, "to fall off or away" (1Co 13:8, "Charity (the Revised Version (British and American) "love") never faileth"); katargeo, "to make useless" (1Co 13:8 the King James Version, "Whether prophecies, they shall fail"); hustereo, "to be behind," "to lack" (Heb 12:15 the King James Version); apopsucho, "to swoon away," "failing" (Lu 21:26 the King James Version).

The Revised Version (British and American) has "fail," in a new translation of Jer 18:14, for "fall" (La 1:14, margin "stumble"); "his hand fail" for "fallen in decay" (Le 25:35); "I will in no wise fail thee" for "I will never leave thee" (Heb 13:5; compare De 31:6; Jos 1:5); "failed to enter" for "entered not" (Heb 4:6); "faileth" (American Standard Revised Version) for "ceaseth" (Ps 49:8), the English Revised Version "must be let alone for ever"; "failing" for "was darkened" (Lu 23:45); for "fail" (Ezr 4:22), "be slack," "be missing" (Isa 34:16); "falleth short of" (Heb 12:15, maqrgin, "falleth bacf from"); for "failed," "was all spent" (Ge 47:15); "wholly" (Jos 3:16); "fail (in looking)" (La 4:17); for "faileth," "is lacking" (Isa 40:26; 59:15); for "men's hearts failing them" (Lu 21:26), "men fainting," margin "expiring."

Written by W. L. Walker

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
A-1 Verb Strong's Number: g1587 Greek: ekleipo


"to leave out" (ek, "out," leipo, "to leave"), used intransitively, means "to leave off, cease, fail;" it is said of the cessation of earthly life, Luk 16:9; of faith, Luk 22:32; of the light of the sun, Luk 23:45 (in the best mss.); of the years of Christ, Hbr 1:12.

A-2 Verb Strong's Number: g1952 Greek: epileipo


"not to suffice for a purpose" (epi, over), is said of insufficient time, in Hbr 11:32.

A-3 Verb Strong's Number: g4098 Greek: pipto


"to fall," is used of the Law of God in its smallest detail, in the sense of losing its authority or ceasing to have force, Luk 16:17. In 1Cr 13:8 it is used of love (some mss. have ekpipto, "to fall off").


(1) In 1Cr 13:8, katargeo, "to reduce to inactivity" (see ABOLISH), in the Passive Voice, "to be reduced to this condition, to be done away," is translated "shall fail," AV. This, however, misses the distinction between what has been previously said of love and what is here said of prophecies (see No. 3); the RV has "shall be done away;" so also as regards knowledge (same verse).

(2) In Hbr 12:15, hustereo, "to come behind, fall short, miss," is rendered "fail" in the AV, RV, "falleth short."

(3) In Luk 21:26, apopsucho, lit., "to breathe out life," hence, "to faint," is translated "hearts failing," in the AV, RV, "fainting."

B-1 Adjective Strong's Number: g413 Greek: anekleiptos


"unfailing" (a, negative, and A, No. 1), is rendered "that faileth not," in Luk 12:33. In a Greek document dated A.D. 42, some contractors undertake to provide "unfailing" heat for a bath during the current year (Moulton and Milligan, Vocab.).

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