1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

fault, flaw and defect

Discussion in 'English Only' started by A-friend, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. A-friend

    A-friend Senior Member

    Tehran
    Persian (Farsi)
    I wonder if you could help me to fill in the following blanks:
    --- Something that is wrong with a body organ, system, machine, design which later can prevent them from working properly can be considered as a……………………, but a problem with someone’s character is their character’s……………………; For example: the jealousy in Othello’s character. But, when you buy a new good, (for example a new TV or car), if it has a scratch on it, it can be counted as its……………………;
    Choices are: (fault --- flaw --- defect)
    Your suggestions: First blank:................ *** Second blank:................. *** Third lank:.................

    ----------------------------------------------------
    [Source: I have written this example myself]
    [I guess ether fault, flaw and defect, can be used in all of the above blanks;
    because I think they are interchangeable words; if not, please do me a favor
    and help me to distinguish them.]
     
  2. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    I think all these words are too strong to refer to something as trivial as a scratch. Blemish would be a better word.
    The three words have overlapping meanings.
    Fault: This often refers to mechanical things. An electrical fault. The brakes are faulty/defective. We can't receive radio signals because there's a fault in the transmitter. You can say We all have our faults (not flaws or defects) - nobody's perfect. The thing that's wrong with the design of a machine is a design fault.
    Flaw: You can say Othello's jealousy was a character flaw or, perhaps more probably, a character defect. You can say There's a flaw in your argument - perhaps an error of logic. A flawless painting.
    Defect: You can say One of the defects of this car is its slow acceleration. There's nothing mechanically wrong with the car. It's just that we want fast acceleration.

    It's difficult to think of a noun for body organs. Perhaps you can say He was suffering from a liver malfunction. You can say His weak heart stopped him working so he claimed Incapacity Benefit. He was badly wounded in the war and this left him incapacitated. She was born deaf and this disability lasted the rest of her life. The insurance application form asked me to declare any disability. But disability is a general word. If you break your leg, you haven't got a disabled leg; you've got a broken leg.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  3. A-friend

    A-friend Senior Member

    Tehran
    Persian (Farsi)
    But could you please complete your statements saying that are these sentences which you mentioned correct with other choices too or not:
    - It has an electrical defect / flaw
    (You mentioned that the word “fault” works here; can the words “flaw” and “defect” be used here?)
    -------------------
    - We can’t receive radio signals because there’s a defect / flaw in the transmitter
    (You mentioned that the word “fault” works here; can the words “flaw” and “defect” be used here?)
    -------------------
    - This car has a defect in its design
    (You mentioned that the word “fault” works here; can the words “flaw” and “defect” be used here?)
    --------------------
    - One of the faults / flaws of this car is its slow acceleration. (There’s nothing mechanically wrong with the car. It’s just that we want fast acceleration.)
    (As you mentioned, the word “defect” works here; but you did not emphasized that whether “just” the word “defect” or not? I mean that do the words “fault” or “flaw” work here or not?)
     
  4. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    'Electrical defect' is better than 'electrical flaw'. But people say 'electrical fault.'
    If you're not receiving the signals properly, the radio station will say 'There's a fault in the transmitter'. That's the word they use.
    You could say a 'fault in its design' or even a 'flaw' or a 'defect'. But people say 'design fault.'
    You could say 'One of the disadvantages of this car is its slow acceleration.' But a disadvantage is simply something you don't want. It may not be due to a mechanical fault.

    There's a great deal of overlap between the meanings of these words. At a guess, I'd say that 'fault' is more common than 'defect' and that both words are closer in meanng to each other than either is to 'flaw'. But I suppose you can say a ballerina gave a flawless or a faultless performance. (There's no such word as 'defectless.')

    A fault can be impermanent or permanent. If your car has an electrical fault, the mechanic will be able to fix it. But he won't be able to fix a design fault. I'd suggest that a defect would be more likely to be permanent.
     
  5. Sun14

    Sun14 Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese
    Do you mean it is unnatural to say:

    There is a defect or deficiency in body organ?
     
  6. Sun14

    Sun14 Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I saw this sentence in Collins and I was wondering whether defect can refer to such physical function rather than specific organs.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]He was born with a hearing defect.[/FONT]
     
  7. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    This says there is something wrong with his hearing - his ability to hear. That is not a body organ - ear, cochlea, brain, etc are all organs involved in hearing. We don't know what's wrong with him physically. He can't hear well.
     
  8. Sun14

    Sun14 Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese
    I see. Thank you very much.
     

Share This Page