1. Failure to perform a task or fulfill an obligation, especially failure to meet a financial obligation: in default on a loan.
2. Law Failure of a party in a case to make a required court appearance.
3. The failure of one or more competitors or teams to participate in a contest: won the championship by default.
a. Computers A particular setting or value for a variable that is assigned automatically by an operating system and remains in effect unless canceled or overridden by the operator: changed the default for the page margins.
b. A situation or condition that is the case in the absence of active intervention.
v. de·fault·ed, de·fault·ing, de·faults
a. To fail to do what is required.
b. To fail to pay money when it is due.
2. Computers To revert to a default.
a. To fail to appear in court as a party to a case when summoned.
b. To lose a case by not appearing.
4. To fail to take part in or complete a scheduled contest.
1. To fail to perform or pay.
2. Law To lose (a case) by failing to appear in court.
3. To fail to take part in or complete (a contest, for example).
in default of
Through the failure, absence, or lack of.
[Middle English defaute, from Old French, from past participle of defaillir, to fail, grow weak : de-, intensive pref.; see DE- + faillir; see FAIL.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.