be·​fall | \ bi-ˈfȯl How to pronounce befall (audio) , bē- \
befell\ bi-​ˈfel How to pronounce befell (audio) , bē-​ \; befallen\ bi-​ˈfȯ-​lən How to pronounce befallen (audio) , 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 Fortunate luck befalls your personal life as well as your professional status., "Horoscope," 25 May 2020 Nothing more significant has befallen the E450, with its only dealer visit being its 10,000-mile service, which included an oil change and several inspections for a fairly steep $253. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "Our Long-Term 2019 Mercedes-Benz E450 Wagon Was a Love Story," 27 Apr. 2020 The Last of Us Part II, there have been concerns the same fate might befall PS5. Nick Romano,, "PlayStation 5 first look: New DualSense controller revealed," 7 Apr. 2020 The same fate befell 1944’s Summer Olympics in London and Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Madeline Roache, Time, "Have the Olympics Ever Been Canceled? Here's the History," 23 Mar. 2020 The kasmiri aloo befell a similar fate — this potato dish losing any crispy texture it was given in the kitchen and the spices decorating the exterior of each potato slice somehow falling flat. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "This Indian restaurant in Middletown serves flavorful dishes flecked with vibrant spices," 18 Mar. 2020 The same scenario befell Can as the Bianconeri began their 2019/20 Serie A campaign with a slender 1-0 triumph at Parma, the ex-Liverpool man watching on as Giorgio Chiellini grabbed the only goal of the game., "Juventus Offer Out-of-Favour Emre Can in Exchange for Equally Out of Favour Barcelona Midfielder," 26 Aug. 2019 If the same fate befalls a Covid-19 vaccine, the virus could remain with us for many years. Rob Picheta, CNN, "What happens if a coronavirus vaccine is never developed? It has happened before," 3 May 2020 Since this crisis befell our country, Gov. Ivey has been largely absent from the picture, but for a few press conferences. Kyle Whitmire, al, "If Alabama has to go back to work, so should the Legislature," 25 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for befall

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for befall

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Befall.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for befall


How to pronounce befall (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of befall

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


be·​fall | \ bi-ˈfȯl How to pronounce befall (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on befall

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for befall

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with befall

Spanish Central: Translation of befall

Nglish: Translation of befall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of befall for Arabic Speakers

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