General English

General Science

  • adjective having a lot of energy


  • adjective denoting a bowler, a ball, or a style of bowling characterised by high speed; ‘fast’ is one of the three basic types according to which bowlers are conventionally categorised (the other two being slow and medium-pace) and a really fast bowler is capable of propelling the ball at speeds approaching 100 mph (160 kph); fast bowlers usually open the bowling and take the new ball
    Citation ‘Weighing up the tour generally, it is obvious that our fast bowlers have won us the games; in particular, Larwood has been a great factor’ (‘Second Slip’, Cricketer Spring Annual 1933)
    Citation ‘Nothing shows up suspect technique in batting more than top class fast bowling, and the West Indians have that in abundance’ (Tom Graveney, Cricketer August 1984)
    Citation ‘Thorpe … started to pierce the off-side with increasing frequency, until reaching the 90s he was overcome with a tension induced by a keen, accurate and fast spell from Donald’ (Richard Hutton, Cricketer September 1994)
  • adjective (of the wicket) providing conditions favourable to fast bowling, especially by enabling the ball to continue in its course after pitching without any loss of pace
    Citation ‘He should also ponder the pace of the ground, and never forget that wet on the top of a hard ground makes the fastest surface of any’ (Badminton 1888)
    Citation ‘The West Indies seemed still to be very much in the contest as they left Brisbane for Perth, which undoubtedly boasts the fastest wicket in the world’ (Manley 1988)


  • noun a period of going without food, undergone in order to lose weight or for religious reasons

Information & Library Science

  • adverb fixed or held very firmly

Media Studies

  • adjective referring to photographic equipment that requires or permits a short exposure time

Origin & History of “fast”

Widely dissimilar as they now seem, fast ‘quick’ and fast ‘abstain from food’ in fact come from the same ultimate source. this was Germanic *fastuz, which denoted ‘firm’. that underlying sense persists in various contexts, such as ‘hold fast’ and ‘fast friend’. The verbal application to ‘eating no food’ originated in the notion of ‘holding fast to a particular observance’ – specifically, abstinence from food. The use of fast for ‘quick’ is a much later development, dating from the 13th century. It probably comes from a perception of fast ‘firm’ containing an underlying connotation of ‘extremity’ or ‘severity’.