"The word 'failure' is not in his dictionary," said Rep. Paul Findley (R-Ill) as he took the floor in the speaker's dining room yesterday to praise Clarence Streit, when he was interrupted by the guest of honor.

"Oh yes it is! Will the gentleman please yield," said Streit, who was being honored for his 40 years of seeking world peace, and he took over.When you're 83 and as revered as Streit was in that gathering, interrupting your own introduction is a pardonable sin.

Streit has been working for world peace ever since he stopped being a doughboy in World War I some 60 years ago. Failure is very near his heart right now. "I'm extremely pessimistic about the world situation. I believe we're headed for a much worse depression than in the '30s-which will rush us into the dangers of advancing communism."

It is his hope that the world will wake up and embrace his "Federal Union." Streit supports a political federation of democratic nations much along the lines of the federal union of our American states. "The ultimate hope would be to unify the enormous resources of these democratic countries-with a common market and common military force," said Findley.

A resolution to explore the idea almost made it through Congress a couple of times, was endorsed by President Nixon and once again is being examined in congressional committees. This "very revolutionary idea," as Findley says, has thebacking of both liberals and conservatives-from Rep. Morris Udall (D-Ariz.) to former Sen. William Jennings Bryan Dorn of South Carolina.

Udall was among many who signed a huge card in appreciation to Streit did-as well as Majority Leader Jim Wright, Speaker of the House Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill, Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), Rep. Henry S. Resuss (D-Wis.), Rep. John F. Seiberling (D-Ohio) and Rep. Mel Price (D-III.), chairman of the House Armed Services committee.

Streit has had careers enough for three people. He has been a bodyguard to President Woodrow Wilson, a Sorbonne student and a Rhodes scholar. As a foreign correspondent he covered the Greco-Turk war, Mussolini's rise to power, the birth of the Turkish and Greek republics. All this was before 1925.

Then he covered the excavation of ancient Carthage and explored the Sahara and the bottom of the Mediterranean for lost cities of antiquity. While covering the rise and fall of the League of Nations for the New York Times, Streit conceived his idea for a federal union. His book, "Union Now," published in 1939, became a best seller. Many books followed, as Streit devoted his life to peace and his federation of nations.

With him yesterday was his wife of 58 years, Jeanne. Streit once again put in a plug for apeaceful federal union of nations as he gave his wife a hug. "Ours is the oldestr peaceful union. We tried it out in ourselves to begin with. Now we recommend it for everybody." CAPTION: Picture, Tip O'Neill, left, and Clarence Streit, by Harry Naltchayan-The Washington Post