adjective, fair·er, fair·est.

  1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
  2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
  3. moderately large; ample: a fair income.
  4. neither excellent nor poor; moderately or tolerably good: fair health.
  5. marked by favoring conditions; likely; promising: in a fair way to succeed.
  6. Meteorology.
    1. (of the sky) bright; sunny; cloudless to half-cloudy.
    2. (of the weather) fine; with no prospect of rain, snow, or hail; not stormy.
  7. Nautical. (of a wind or tide) tending to aid the progress of a vessel.
  8. unobstructed; not blocked up: The way was fair for our advance.
  9. without irregularity or unevenness: a fair surface.
  10. free from blemish, imperfection, or anything that impairs the appearance, quality, or character: Her fair reputation was ruined by gossip.
  11. easy to read; clear: fair handwriting.
  12. of a light hue; not dark: fair skin.
  13. pleasing in appearance; attractive: a fair young maiden.
  14. seemingly good or sincere but not really so: The suitor beguiled his mistress with fair speeches.
  15. courteous; civil: fair words.
  16. Medicine/Medical. (of a patient’s condition) having stable and normal vital signs and other favorable indicators, as appetite and mobility, but being in some discomfort and having the possibility of a worsening state.
  17. Dialect. scarcely; barely: It was just fair daylight when we started working.

adverb, fair·er, fair·est.

  1. in a fair manner: He doesn’t play fair.
  2. straight; directly, as in aiming or hitting: He threw the ball fair to the goal.
  3. favorably; auspiciously.
  4. British, Australian. entirely; completely; quite: It happened so quickly that it fair took my breath away.


  1. Archaic. something that is fair.
  2. Archaic.
    1. a woman.
    2. a beloved woman.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make the connection or junction of (surfaces) smooth and even.
  2. Shipbuilding.
    1. to draw and adjust (the lines of a hull being designed) to produce regular surfaces of the correct form.
    2. to adjust the form of (a frame or templet) in accordance with a design, or cause it to conform to the general form of a hull.
    3. to restore (a bent plate or structural member) to its original form.
    4. to align (the frames of a vessel under construction) in proper position.
  3. to bring (rivet holes in connecting structural members) into perfect alignment.
  4. Obsolete. to make fair.

Verb Phrases

  1. fair off/up, South Midland and Southern U.S. (of the weather) to clear: It’s supposed to fair off toward evening.

  1. bid fair, to seem likely: This entry bids fair to win first prize.
  2. fair and square,
    1. honestly; justly; straightforwardly: He won the race fair and square.
    2. honest; just; straightforward: He was admired for being fair and square in all his dealings.
  3. fair to middling, Informal. only tolerably good; so-so.


  1. free from discrimination, dishonesty, etc; just; impartial
  2. in conformity with rules or standards; legitimatea fair fight
  3. (of the hair or complexion) light in colour
  4. beautiful or lovely to look at
  5. moderately or quite gooda fair piece of work
  6. unblemished; untainted
  7. (of the tide or wind) favourable to the passage of a vessel
  8. sunny, fine, or cloudless
  9. (prenominal) informal thorough; reala fair battle to get to the counter
  10. pleasant or courteous
  11. apparently good or valuable, but really falsefair words
  12. open or unobstructeda fair passage
  13. Australian (of handwriting) clear and legible
  14. a fair crack of the whip, Australian a fair shake of the dice or a fair go informal a fair opportunity; fair chance
  15. fair and square in a correct or just way
  16. fair do’s
    1. equal shares or treatment
    2. an expression of appeal for equal shares or treatment
  17. fair enough! an expression of agreement
  18. fair go! Australian and NZ informal come off it!; I don’t believe it!
  19. fair to middling about average


  1. in a fair way; correctlyact fair, now!
  2. absolutely or squarely; quitethe question caught him fair off his guard
  3. dialect really or veryfair tired


  1. (intr) dialect (of the weather) to become fine and mild


  1. archaic a person or thing that is beautiful or valuable, esp a woman


  1. a travelling entertainment with sideshows, rides, etc, esp one that visits places at the same time each year
  2. a gathering of producers of and dealers in a given class of products to facilitate businessa book fair
  3. an event including amusements and the sale of goods, esp for a charity; bazaar
  4. a regular assembly at a specific place for the sale of goods, esp livestock

Old English fæger “beautiful, lovely, pleasant,” from Proto-Germanic *fagraz (cf. Old Saxon fagar, Old Norse fagr, Old High German fagar “beautiful,” Gothic fagrs “fit”), perhaps from PIE *pek- “to make pretty” (cf. Lithuanian puošiu “I decorate”).

The meaning in reference to weather (c.1200) preserves the original sense (opposed to foul). Sense of “light-complexioned” (1550s) reflects tastes in beauty; sense of “free from bias” (mid-14c.) evolved from another early meaning, “morally pure, unblemished” (late 12c.). The sporting senses (fair ball, fair catch etc.) began in 1856. Fair play is from 1590s; fair and square is from c.1600. Fair-haired in the figurative sense of “darling, favorite” is from 1909. First record of fair-weather friends is from 1736.


early 14c., from Anglo-French feyre (late 13c.), from Old French feire, from Vulgar Latin *feria “holiday, market fair,” from Latin feriae “religious festivals, holidays,” related to festus “solemn, festive, joyous” (see feast).

In addition to the idioms beginning with fair

  • fair and square
  • fair enough
  • fair game
  • fair play
  • fair sex
  • fair shake, a
  • fair to middling
  • fairy godmother

also see:

  • all’s fair in love and war
  • play fair
  • turnabout is fair play
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