Meaning of fatal


The adjective fatal describes something that is capable of causing death. Certain cleaning products, for instance, are labeled, “Could be fatal if swallowed.” Here’s a helpful suggestion: don’t swallow them.

Can you hear the word fate in fatal? In ancient times, people believed that the future was determined by a force called fate, and in the 14th century, the French used the word fatal to describe anything that fate had decreed, including death. By the next century the word had evolved to mean something that specifically causes death. Today the term is used more loosely. If your friend makes a fatal mistake on the tennis court, it doesn’t mean that he’ll literally die, just that he’ll lose the game.

Definitions of fatal
  1. adjective

    bringing death


    deadly, deathly, mortal

    causing or capable of causing death
    deadly, lethal

    of an instrument of certain death

    causing or ending in or approaching death
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    not bringing death

    not capable of causing death
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  2. adjective

    (of events) having extremely unfortunate or dire consequences; bringing ruin

    “”such doctrines, if true, would be absolutely
    fatal to my theory”- Charles Darwin”
    “”it is
    fatal to enter any war without the will to win it”- Douglas MacArthur”

    black, calamitous, disastrous, fateful


    not favored by fortune; marked or accompanied by or resulting in ill fortune
  3. adjective

    having momentous consequences; of decisive importance

    fatal day of the election finally arrived”



    determining or having the power to determine an outcome
  4. adjective

    controlled or decreed by fate; predetermined

    fatal series of events”



    incapable of being avoided or prevented

Word Family

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