The Meaning of Fair: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of fair? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word fair, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word fair mean?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, the word fair has a plethora of different definitions in American English. As an adjective, the word fair can mean to be smooth, favourable to the passage of a vessel, even or regular, without sudden change of direction, or light in skin tone. This smooth outline usually describes the curvature of surfaces, water lines, and other foul lines, as well as the figure of a vessel. The word fair also means objective or impartial, as well as reasonable, right or just. It can also be used to mean free of obstacles or hindrances. Many things can be fair, including a fair sight, fair mark, fair view, fair day, fair referee, fair copy, fair wage, fair name, fair sky, fair crack of the whip, fair shake, fair decision, and more. As a noun, a fair can refer to a carnival, sideshows, or a gathering at a specific place and time for buying and selling goods, like a farmer’s market.

According to Your Dictionary, the word fair can also mean to design or construct a structure for which the primary function is to produce a smooth outline or reduce air drag or water resistance. Fair is one syllable, and the pronunciation of fair is fɛər.

There are many different words and phrases that are derived from the word fair. These are listed below, from Word Sense.

  •  fair off
  •  fair cop
  •  fair-weather friend
  •  fair copy
  •  fair up
  •  fairing
  •  all’s fair in love and war
  •  faired
  •  fair go
  •  fair sex
  •  fair and square
  •  funfair
  •  to be fair
  •  fair play
  •  fair use
  •  fair to middling

What is the origin of the word fair?

According to Your Dictionary, the word fair has been used since the Middle English faire. This comes from the Old French feire and Medieval Latin festus, feria and the Late Latin fēria sing. Originally, this was the Latin fēriae holidays, or dhēs- in Indo-European roots. This word can be compared to the Old English fæger lovely, Middle English fayr, feir, and fager from Old English fæġer, and the Proto-Germanic fagraz, which also stemmed the Scots fayr, fare, Old High German fagar, Old Norse fagr, Gothic fagrs, Old Saxon Danish feir, faver, fager, Norwegian fager, Swedish fager, Icelandic fagur, Umbrian pacer, and Slovak pekný.

How can the word fair be used in a sentence?

The word fair can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to remember their definitions.  You can also try making flashcards and quizzes to test your base knowledge. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! 

The travelling entertainment stopped at festivals and fairs around the country for the sale of goods, antiques, craft, and livestock, games of skill, as well as the competitive exhibition of farm products and baking for a blue ribbon prize. The religious festival drew a gathering of buyers and sellers in each county, and the exposition was very profitable for the exhibitors. The townspeople couldn’t wait for the traveling show to return the next year. 

The fair feast lay before the baseball players after their game, and they gobbled it up as quickly as they arrived.

The students at Princeton University found it an unfair injustice that the students were not punished for cheating. If they could practice deception and get away with it, why wouldn’t others choose the same at the next junction?

It was a fair day outside. It was slightly overcast, but the air had a fresh quality that made it perfect for a morning walk.

The professionals viewed the fair as a business opportunity. They wanted to sell their new products, but were denied when they refused to give a portion of the proceeds to the benefit of a charity the fair was supporting.

The rivet holes were in a fair position, and in perfect alignment for the structural members.

What are synonyms and antonyms of fair?

There are many different words and phrases that a person can use in place of the word fair (n/v/adj/adv). These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as the word fair. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms of fair is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  delightful
  •  passable
  •  ravishing
  •  fairly
  •  satisfactory
  •  beauteous
  •  even-handed
  •  right
  •  blond
  •  charming
  •  carnival
  •  adequate
  •  good
  •  equitable
  •  reasonable
  •  just
  •  middling
  •  impartial
  •  attractive
  •  straight
  •  upright
  •  respectable
  •  average
  •  clean
  •  unprejudiced
  •  foxy
  •  clear
  •  good-looking
  •  proper
  •  bazaar
  •  unbiased
  •  exquisite
  •  bonny
  •  mediocre
  •  blonde
  •  tolerable
  •  stunning
  •  handsome
  •  acceptable
  •  sightly
  •  excellent
  •  honest
  •  decent
  •  all right
  •  gorgeous
  •  alluring
  •  fine
  •  appealing
  •  comely
  •  lovely

There are also plenty of words that have the opposite meaning of the word fair. These are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your knowledge of the English language. These antonyms of fair are also provided by Power Thesaurus. 

  •  unreasonable
  •  unsatisfactory
  •  inequitable
  •  dreadful
  •  biased
  •  dark
  •  unsightly
  •  rough
  •  royal
  •  poor
  •  horrible
  •  partial
  •  awful
  •  unfair
  •  unattractive
  •  prejudiced
  •  ugly
  •  sinful
  •  appalling
  •  grotesque
  •  vile
  •  wrong
  •  insufficient
  •  repulsive
  •  illegitimate
  •  inferior
  •  invalid
  •  hideous
  •  unjust
  •  improper
  •  bad
  •  homely
  •  repellent
  •  disgusting
  •  cloudy
  •  incorrect
  •  unappealing
  •  dishonest
  •  inclement
  •  foul
  •  shameful
  •  greedy
  •  inappropriate
  •  unacceptable
  •  unlovely
  •  unhandsome
  •  inadequate
  •  unpleasant
  •  stormy
  •  ill-favored

Overall, the word fair has many different meanings as an adjective, noun and verb. This is of Anglo-French and Latin origins.


  1. fair: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Fair synonyms – 3 674 Words and Phrases for Fair | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Fair antonyms – 2 351 Opposites of Fair | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Fair definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  5. Fair Meaning | Best 74 Definitions of Fair | Your Dictionary