Consider the meaning of the word "fault" as used in the following sentence:

It is not your fault that the warehouse burned down.

What word could we use in the following sentence:

It is not your _____ that you won the lottery.

The closest I can think of is:

It is not to your credit that you won the lottery.

But this sentence doesn't have exactly the same structure, because of the "to" before "your".

Edit: Clarification following Jason Bassford's comments:

              |  You are responsible  |  You are not responsible  |
Bad event:    |       your fault      |      not your fault       |
Good event:   |       your _____      |      not your _____       |
  • Did a thesaurus suggest anything?
    – Mitch
    May 21, 2019 at 11:18
  • ... 'your deserts' doesn't work for some reason. May 21, 2019 at 12:59
  • Except that you're the one who picked the winning number. So, you did do something that led to the result, at least indirectly. Are you objecting to the normative association with fault (to be judged poorly) and wanting something that is neutral or the opposite—or are you looking for something like you weren't the cause of the winning number being drawn? Before understanding what you mean by antonym, we need to understand your interpretation of fault itself. (You suggest something with credit, but it's still not entirely clear.) May 21, 2019 at 15:36
  • @JasonBassford "The cause" is problematic because every effect has myriad causes. Did you choose the drawing machine's number or did the drawing machine choose your number? Imagine driver A turning negligently into oncoming traffic and colliding with driver B. It could be argued that driver B's decision to drive to the supermarket at that particular time was a cause of that accident; that doesn't mean it was driver B's fault. I think blame is usually allocated to causes in proportion to each cause's degree of deviation from reasonable/normal/expected behavior.
    – Museful
    May 21, 2019 at 16:15
  • 1
    You could say "it's not your doing" although, on second thought, that also can work to replace "fault" in the first sentence. May 21, 2019 at 18:04

4 Answers 4


It is not your meed that you won the lottery.

It is not by your merit that you won the lottery.

Though archaic, meed fits because meed is deserved or earned reward. Something obtained through fortune rather than through deserving it is not one's meed.


1 archaic : an earned reward or wage

2 : a fitting return or recompense

Oxford Dictionaries:

archaic : A person's deserved share of praise, honour, etc.

If you don't like using an archaism, try merit, which has similar meanings:


1b : the qualities or actions that constitute the basis of one's deserts



It is not your merit that you won the lottery.

I agree that the proposal

It is not to your credit that you won the lottery.

does not fit well, albeit for another reason. The phrase would fit better with a statement like

It is not to your credit that you are playing the lottery.

The meaning here is that your actions point to an undesirable characteristic of yours, perhaps a character flaw (a gambling nature) or a poor grasp of probabilities (if you believe that you will win).

  • 1
    So your're saying that "not to your credit" should always be interpreted as litotes?
    – Andrew Leach
    May 22, 2019 at 6:35
  • Thanks for the new vocabulary! Not necessarily always, but in the given example without further context, I would read it like that.
    – soundray
    May 24, 2019 at 14:49

There are two ways to deal with trying to express an antonym:

  • find the word that fills the slot perfectly. Often enough, there is an exact antonym, which matches all the salient criteria. But also there is often a lexical gap, not an exact word to fill the slot, or a candidate doesn't match everything (like register, frequency, or important contextual implications)

    For the noun 'fault', the most important thing is you did it and it was bad. The synonym of fault that seems closest is error, and of its antonyms, the most appropriate seem to be:




    Putting either of these into your sentence, the better one seems to be:

    It is not your achievement that you won the lottery.

    It is not perfect, sounds a little stilted, has some implications not found in 'fault', but I think gets most of the way there. In most circumstances, 'achievement' is not a direct antonym of 'fault', but it does seem to work OK here.

  • or sometimes it's just better to rewrite the sentence to communicate the same feeling but not necessarily with the same structure. Translators/interpreters have to do this all the time, often with the excuse 'you just don't say it that way, there's no word for word parallel, you just say it this other way'.

    For this, a thesaurus is often misleading because it tries to maintain part of speech, even if a different part of speech is better. I can only suggest:

    It is not through any skill of your own that you won the lottery.


    You didn't win the lottery by any particular skill.

The latter is a total rewrite, and could easily be made better, but captures the opposite of fault in that you did it, but it was good ('skill' implies it was intentional, and 'of your own' or 'You' implies it was caused by you.


In informal language, at least in the US, I know two ways to do this:

It's not down to you

This means it's not because of you. Example:

It's not down to you that the warehouse was saved from destruction by fire.

It's not down to your (special quality)

This means it's not because of your (such-and-so) special quality. Example:

It's not down to your good looks that you won the lottery.

The only dictionary definition I found of to be down to that matches with the above was google's

be attributable to (a particular factor or circumstance). "he claimed his problems were down to the media"

be the responsibility of (a particular person). "it's down to you to make sure the boiler receives regular servicing"

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