down·​fall | \ ˈdau̇n-ˌfȯl How to pronounce downfall (audio) \

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 \ ˈdau̇n-​ˌfȯ-​lən How to pronounce downfallen (audio) \ 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

Still others bemoaned the missteps that led to the company’s downfall... Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, "Sears Shoppers, Workers Lament Its Demise," 18 Mar. 2019 Trump has contrasted a path toward prosperity for the North under a nuclear deal with the potential downfall of the regime if talks collapse. Missy Ryan, Washington Post, "What will U.S. give North Korea in exchange for nukes? Ahead of summit, question looms.," 31 May 2018 Season two will begin with the 1956 Suez Crisis—a disastrous military decision which disgraced then-Prime Minister Anthony Eden—and will chronicle events roughly through 1964, ending with the downfall of another Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "'The Crown' Has Cast Its JFK and Jackie Kennedy," 9 Feb. 2017 Tiger Woods, engineer of golf’s most spectacular ascent and author of its most dramatic downfall, has pulled off one of sports’ greatest revivals. Brian Costa, WSJ, "Tiger Woods Caps Season With a Win at the Tour Championship," 23 Sep. 2018 Last summer, federal authorities identified Alexander Vinnik as a central figure in the massive bitcoin theft that was a major factor in the downfall of Mt. Gox, the Japanese bitcoin exchange that led the market in bitcoin's early years. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Suspect behind bitcoin exchange that “catered to criminals” ordered to France," 16 July 2018 At the time, it was seen as yet another loss for a government on the verge of downfall, its battered troops in desperate retreat across the country. Nabih Bulos,, "Rebels surrender southern Syrian enclave, handing Assad another major victory," 7 July 2018 Marseille, again the masters of their own downfall, gave the ball away inside their half, allowing Koke to play a ball through to Griezmann. Matias Grez, CNN, "Antoine Griezmann masterclass guides Atletico Madrid to Europa League title," 16 May 2018 Weinstein's name was attached to a number of assets, many of which have floundered in the wake of Weinstein's downfall. Rebecca Farley,, "Project Runway Is Finally Free From Weinstein Co.’s Grip," 15 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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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The first known use of downfall was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of downfall

: a sudden loss of power, happiness, success, etc.
: something that causes failure


down·​fall | \ ˈdau̇n-ˌfȯl How to pronounce downfall (audio) \

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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