down·​fall | \ˈdau̇n-ˌfȯl \

Definition of downfall 

1a : a sudden fall (as from power)

b : a fall (as of snow or rain) especially when sudden or heavy

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

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Other Words from downfall

downfallen \-​ˌfȯ-​lən \ adjective

Examples of downfall in a Sentence

Their downfall was the result of several bad decisions. Bad decision-making was their downfall.

Recent Examples on the Web

No one would say Wansink’s downfall discredits the very idea that the environment affects our weight — just that his specific claims can’t be supported based on the available evidence. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The controversy around hoax studies in critical theory, explained," 15 Oct. 2018 The Hong Kong Observatory said although Mangkhut had weakened slightly, its extensive, intense rainbands were bringing heavy downfall and frequent squalls. Fox News, "Typhoon lashes south China after killing 28 in Philippines," 16 Sep. 2018 The termination marks a remarkable downfall for Strzok, a 22-year veteran of the bureau who investigated Russian spies, defense officials accused of selling secrets to China and myriad other important cases. Matt Zapotosky, The Seattle Times, "FBI agent Peter Strzok fired over anti-Trump texts," 13 Aug. 2018 An American apotheosis is often built on a humbling downfall, and Jimmy Carter has his, too, of course. Michael Paterniti, GQ, "Jimmy Carter for Higher Office," 26 June 2018 Many of the women interviewed by USA TODAY aren't looking for all harassers to face a Harvey Weinstein-level public downfall or firing like Matt Lauer, saying their primary goal is for the behavior to stop. Cara Kelly, USA TODAY, "'Death by a thousand cuts': How minor incidents of harassment create toxic environments for women," 12 June 2018 Many have been strengthened by the breakdown of Libya after the downfall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in 2011. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 July 2018 Some scholars believe drought led to the downfall of the Classic Maya civilization. Joshua Rapp Learn, Science | AAAS, "The Maya civilization used chocolate as money," 27 June 2018 The 12-day festival was the first since the downfall of Weinstein, who was for decades an annual fixture in Cannes. Jake Coyle And Thomas Adamson,, "'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or, grand prize to Spike Lee; Asia Argento tears into Weinstein at Cannes," 19 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'downfall.' 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 downfall

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for downfall

Last Updated

25 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for downfall

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

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More Definitions for downfall



English Language Learners Definition of downfall

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

: something that causes failure


down·​fall | \ˈdau̇n-ˌfȯl \

Kids Definition of downfall

: 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.

Other Words from downfall

downfallen \-​ˌfȯl-​ən \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on downfall

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with downfall

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for downfall

Spanish Central: Translation of downfall

Nglish: Translation of downfall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of downfall for Arabic Speakers

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