This is the context I saw the phrase in:

Some people say that suicide is a result of cowardice or failure on the part of loved ones to act, but those people are, to use the clinical term, fucking idiots;

What does this phrase mean?

  • What is it that you don't understand? Is it the meaning of the noun failure? Is it the meaning of the phrase on the part of? Please use the edit link to add to your question a short summary of the research you have done on your own. For instance, what dictionary did you use to learn about the noun failure? Knowing this will help us provide a useful answer. Nov 13, 2016 at 6:00
  • Thanks for respond. I know every single words' definition but cannot get what the sentence want to tell. May you please define this sentence in other words which I understand?
    – Eman
    Nov 13, 2016 at 8:51
  • Did you consult your dictionary to learn what "on their part" means in English? What English dictionary do you use? Nov 13, 2016 at 8:57
  • LDOCE Failure: a lack of success in achieving or doing something
    – Eman
    Nov 13, 2016 at 8:58
  • The Longman's dictionary also provides a definition of the usage "on the part of": see this link. After reading these entries in your dictionary, what do you think "failure on the part of loved ones to act" means? Nov 13, 2016 at 9:03

1 Answer 1


I am going to break down the phrase "failure on the part of loved ones to act" into its subparts and their meanings:

  • Failure: this word has its normal dictionary meaning of "lack of success,"
  • On the part of: this can be replaced with the word "by," which has the same meaning,
  • Loved ones: usually means family and/or close friends,
  • To act: means "to do something" or "do something about it."

So you could rewrite this phrase as follows and keep the same meaning:

Failure by friends and family to do something.

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