Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun down·fall \ˈdau̇n-ˌfȯl\

Simple Definition of downfall

  • : a sudden loss of power, happiness, success, etc.

  • : something that causes failure

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of downfall

  1. 1 a :  a sudden fall (as from power) b :  a fall (as of snow or rain) especially when sudden or heavy

  2. 2 :  something that causes a downfall (as of a person) <gambling was his downfall>


play \-ˌfȯ-lən\ adjective

Examples of downfall in a sentence

  1. Their downfall was the result of several bad decisions.

  2. Bad decision-making was their downfall.

13th Century

First Known Use of downfall

13th century

Rhymes with downfall

ALGOL, and all, Antall, appall, Argall, argol, air ball, ashfall, at all, atoll, AWOL, baseball, beach ball, beanball, befall, Bengal, best-ball, birdcall, blackball, Bokmål, bookstall, box stall, bradawl, brick wall, broomball, catcall, catchall, cell wall, COBOL, cold call, cornball, Cornwall, crown gall, cue ball, cure-all, curveball, deadfall, de Gaulle, dodgeball, downhaul, drywall, duck call, eight ball, enthrall, eyeball, fair ball, fastball, fireball, fire wall, foosball, football, footfall, footwall, forestall, forkball, foul ball, four-ball, fourth wall, free-fall, gadwall, game ball, glycol, golf ball, Goodall, goofball, googol, guildhall, hair ball, handball, hardball, headstall, heelball, highball, holdall, house call, icefall, infall, install, John Paul, jump ball, keelhaul, know-all, landfall, Landsmål, line-haul, line squall, lowball, Maillol, meatball, menthol, mess hall, miscall, mothball, Naipaul, naphthol, Nepal, nightfall, nutgall, oddball, outfall, outhaul, paintball, pinball, pitfall, plimsoll, pratfall, prayer shawl, pub crawl, puffball, punchball, pushball, rainfall, rainsquall, recall, rial, Riksmål, rockfall, roll call, rorqual, Saint Paul, save-all, screwball, seawall, short-haul, shortfall, sick call, sidewall, sleazeball, slimeball, snowball, snowfall, softball, sour ball, speedball, spitball, stickball, stonewall, stone wall, stoopball, strip mall, T-ball, tea ball, tell-all, three-ball, toll call, town hall, trackball, Tyrol, Udall, Walsall, what all, whip stall, Whitehall, whitewall, windfall, windgall, withal, you-all

DOWNFALL Defined for Kids


noun down·fall \ˈdau̇n-ˌfȯl\

Definition of downfall for Students

  1. :  a sudden fall (as from power, happiness, or a high position) or the cause of such a fall <the downfall of the Roman Empire> <Greed proved to be his downfall.>


\-ˌfȯl-ən\ adjective

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up downfall? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to destroy or remove completely

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?

estival hiemal vernal brumal
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.