befall

play
verb be·fall \bi-ˈfȯl, bē-\

Definition of befall

befell

play \-ˈfel\;

befallen

play \-ˈfȯ-lən\
  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to happen especially as if by fate

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to happen to the fate that befell them

Examples of befall in a Sentence

  1. It's sad to think of the unhappy fate that befell him.

  2. The drought was only one of many hardships to befall the small country.

Recent Examples of befall from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of befall

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


BEFALL Defined for English Language Learners

befall

play
verb

Definition of befall for English Language Learners

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


BEFALL Defined for Kids

befall

play
verb be·fall \bi-ˈfȯl\

Definition of befall for Students

befell

\-ˈfel\;

befallen

\-ˈfȯ-lən\;

befalling

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



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to become worse as time passes

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Emoji Quiz

  • emoji-the-quiz
  • What phase of the moon is this: 🌖 ?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!