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What does 'failing' mean in

If the --target-directory (-t) option is given, or failing that if the last file is a directory and the --no-target-directory (-T) option is not given, ln creates a link to each target file in the specified directory, using the targets’ names.

Also see https://unix.stackexchange.com/q/293514/674

Thanks.

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The idiomatic phrase you are wondering about is

failing that
failing a condition to be present

which means

without that condition being met
in case that doesn't happen

We will catch the last train to get home, failing that we will have to spend the night here.
I hope to get into the school of my choice, failing that I have a safety school as a backup.

Your passage is saying if either the "--target-directory" or "-t" option is not used, but the last name on the argument list is a directory and the "--no-target-directory" option is not given (to override the use of a directory name), the Unix command ln will create multiple symbolic links.

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