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From Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. A failing or failure; omission of that which ought to be done; neglect to do whaduty or law requires; as, this evil has happened through the governors default.

2. Fault; offense; ill deed; wrong act; failure in virtue or wisdom. And pardon craved for his so rash default. (Spenser) Regardless of our merit or default. (Pope)

3. A neglect of, or failure to take, some step necessary to secure the benefit of law, as a failure to appear in court at a day assigned, especially of the defendant in a suit when called to make answer; also of jurors, witnesses, etc. In default of, in case of failure or lack of. Cooks could make artificial birds and fishes in default of the real ones. (Arbuthnot) to suffer a default, to permit an action to be called without appearing to answer.

Origin: oe. Defaute, OF. Defaute, defalte, fem, f. Defaut, masc, LL. Defalta, fr. A verb meaning, to be deficient, to want, fail, fr. L. De- _ fallere to deceive. See fault.