be·fall | \bi-ˈfȯl, bē-\
befell\bi-ˈfel, bē- \; befallen\bi-ˈfȯ-lən, bē- \

Definition of befall 

intransitive verb

: to happen especially as if by fate

transitive verb

: to happen to the fate that befell them

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Examples of befall in a Sentence

It's sad to think of the unhappy fate that befell him. The drought was only one of many hardships to befall the small country.

Recent Examples on the Web

Such a fate befell Nigerian Oghenerkaro Etebo, who had a ball deflect off his leg and into the goal to give Croatia a 1-0 lead. Jared Young,, "Own goals are having a big impact in the 2018 World Cup," 21 June 2018 On Monday night, that sad fate befell the Rockets, who disintegrated in the crucible of the postseason. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Over, Easy: A Basketball Aficionado Foresees the Warriors’ Surge Past the Rockets," 29 May 2018 Two hours before he was ambushed outside a motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach and shot dead Monday, South Florida rapper XXXTentacion was unaware of the fate that would soon befall him. Martin Vassolo, Rebecca Ellis And Carli Teproff, miamiherald, "XXXTentacion's great-grandmother mourns him as 'Hercules.' He had no enemies, lawyer says.," 19 June 2018 Not long after Ellen’s funeral, which is presented as a chance for Annie to break free of her mother’s murky influence, another tragedy befalls the Grahams, and things shift from moody to macabre. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Close-to-Home Horror of Hereditary," 7 June 2018 This duty spared him some of the hard labor and indiscriminate brutality that befell other captives and allowed him to join an underground resistance that secretly assumed leadership roles within the camps, roles that continued after liberation. Emanuella Grinberg, Smithsonian, "When a Bavarian Monastery Provided a Home to Jewish Refugees," 11 July 2018 Despite surviving a shooting and suffering the loss of five of their colleagues Thursday, reporters and editors at the Capital Gazette regrouped and continued to report on the tragedy that befell them. Eli Meixler, Time, "A Gunman Killed Five People at the Capital Gazette Newspaper. This Is Their Front Page After the Attack," 29 June 2018 Worried about the same fate befalling the other works attributed to Banksy, Julien Surdeau took to the streets Monday with some friends and fixed plastic covers over four of them. Linda Hervieux /, NBC News, "New Banksy street art appears across Paris, taking aim at refugee crisis," 27 June 2018 Dozier touched home plate and began to high-five those who congregated outside his dugout, unwilling to remember what could befall them. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Carlos Correa's walkoff single in 12th inning lifts Astros over Royals," 23 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'befall.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of befall

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for befall

Middle English befallen, going back to Old English befeallan (parallel to Old High German bifallan "to fall"), from be- be- + feallan "to fall entry 1"

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Dictionary Entries near befall





be/fall prey to



Statistics for befall

Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for befall

The first known use of befall was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for befall



English Language Learners Definition of befall

of something bad or unpleasant : to happen to (someone or something)


be·fall | \bi-ˈfȯl \
befell\-ˈfel \; befallen\-ˈfȯ-lən \; befalling

Kids Definition of befall

: to happen to … they would not have known about the good fortune which befell us …— Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Comments on befall

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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