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”
    synonyms: 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
    “the fatal day of the election finally arrived”
    synonyms: fateful
    determining or having the power to determine an outcome
  4. adjective
    controlled or decreed by fate; predetermined
    “a fatal series of events”
    synonyms: fateful
    incapable of being avoided or prevented
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘fatal'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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