General English


  • adjective reasonable, with equal treatment


  • noun a regular meeting for the sale of goods or animals, often with sideshows and other entertainments. Fairs can be specialised, e.g. horse fairs or cheese fairs, or can cover all types of farm animals.


  • adjective free of clouds or storms, clear and sunny
  • verb to join pieces so as to be smooth, even, or regular

Cars & Driving


  • adjective denoting a delivery which is not a no-ball, wide, or dead ball, and off which the batsman can be dismissed in any of the usual ways
    Citation ‘Muttiah Muralitharan, whose bent-elbow delivery has somehow been deemed fair by umpires in four countries … had three of the last four wickets with his prodigious off-breaks’ (Caribbean cricket Quarterly Jan/March 1994)


  • noun a group of sideshows, amusements, food stalls, etc., set up in one place for a short time

Origin & History of “fair”

English has two distinct words fair, one Germanic and the other romance. The older, meaning ‘beautiful’ (OE), comes from a prehistoric Germanic *fagraz, which survives also in Swedish fager ‘beautiful’. It derived from a base *fag-, which seems originally to have meant ‘fitting, suitable’ (a variant of it was the ultimate source of fake and possibly also of the now archaic noun fig ‘clothes, array’, as in ‘in full fig’). Of its main present-day meanings, ‘just, equitable’ developed in the 14th century and ‘not dark’ in the mid 16th century.

Fair ‘festive event’ (13th c.) comes from Old French feire. this was a descendant of late Latin fēria, a singular use of a noun which in classical times had been used in the plural, fēriae, for ‘holiday’. A close relative of fēriae was the adjective festus ‘joyous’, source of English feast, festival, festoon, and fête.