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[feyl-seyf] /ˈfeɪlˌseɪf/

Electronics. pertaining to or noting a mechanism built into a system, as in an early warning system or a nuclear reactor, for insuring safety should the system fail to operate properly.
equipped with a secondary system that insures continued operation even if the primary system fails.
(sometimes initial capital letter) of, relating to, or designating a system of coded military controls in which bombers dispatched to a prearranged point as part of a standard operating procedure cannot advance farther without direct orders from a designated authority and cannot have the nuclear warheads they carry armed until they have passed their prearranged point.
guaranteed to work; totally reliable:
a fail-safe recipe for a cheese soufflé.
(sometimes initial capital letter) the point beyond which the bombers cannot go without specific instruction; the fail-safe point.
something designed to work or function automatically to prevent breakdown of a mechanism, system, or the like.
verb (used with object), fail-safed, fail-safing.
to make fail-safe.
designed to return to a safe condition in the event of a failure or malfunction
(of a nuclear weapon) capable of being deactivated in the event of a failure or accident
unlikely to fail; foolproof
(intransitive) to return to a safe condition in the event of a failure or malfunction

also fail-safe, fail safe “safe against failure,” 1948, from fail (v.) + safe (adj.). Earliest reference is to furnace burners.


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