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

The risk for investors in his downfall is that Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi go back to being small but mass-market car makers just as unprecedented technological change is making scale more necessary than ever. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "With Ghosn Gone, the Alliance He Built Could Crumble," 19 Nov. 2018 There’s common worry in the defense world that casts a shadow over human enhancement: Will America’s ethics be its downfall, dooming the U.S. to second place in the super-soldier arms race? Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Short-Term Superhuman: If We Create Augmented Soldiers, Can We Turn Them Back?," 25 Sep. 2018 First, there were so many people in Dothan who would revel in his downfall. New York Times, "From Fighting Injustice to Facing Death Row: The Bizarre Case of Pastor Glasgow," 7 July 2018 But in Sunday’s 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Gausman took a step back, and his inability to put hitters away with two strikes was his downfall in his shortest nonejection outing in 13 months. Eduardo A. Encina,, "Kevin Gausman's two-strike struggles lead to his shortest outing of season," 27 May 2018 The movement’s violent side was eventually its downfall. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Renegade Sheriffs," 23 Apr. 2018 Many Newcastle fans are revelling in their former manager's downfall., "'We Told You So': Newcastle United Fans Gleefully React to Alan Pardew's West Brom Departure," 3 Apr. 2018 These units prove to be their downfall because that’s exactly what the clever canines are trained to detect. Kim Komando, Fox News, "Finding phone numbers, online incomes and more: Tech Q&A," 9 Mar. 2018 Big Edie, also once a woman of great beauty, had endured her own downfall. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Jackie Kennedy Onassis was 'horrified' of recluse aunt, cousin living in crumbling Grey Gardens, book claims," 12 Sep. 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

21 Jan 2019

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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

Comments on downfall

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


to gather or build up little by little

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