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 downfall (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 His closest family members all left Michigan following his downfall, including his father and codefendant Bernard Kilpatrick, his mother, the former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, his three sons and his now ex-wife Carlita Kilpatrick. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Kilpatrick pal Bobby Ferguson seeks prison release: Mayor got out, so should I," 30 Mar. 2021 But Thursday’s win didn’t do much to increase confidence that this lingering weakness won’t be their downfall. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Will Ohio State basketball’s inability to close out games result in a third loss to Purdue?," 11 Mar. 2021 Throughout the season, and especially in recent games, Auburn’s defense has been its downfall, and the root of it, youth, is something that only improves in time. Giana Han, al, "Auburn proves it can win without Sharife Cooper by beating Tennessee," 27 Feb. 2021 Pitino's downfall in 2017 came only after the Cardinals were accused of paying players and arranging escorts for potential recruits. Paul Newberry, ajc, "Column: Sports always provides a conduit to forgiveness," 19 Mar. 2021 To put Bush's downfall in perspective, Trump moved out of the White House with 29% approval, according to the Pew Research Center. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden remains popular but could be peaking too soon," 18 Mar. 2021 His out-of-control vision proves to be WeWork’s downfall. Arielle Pardes, Wired, "A New WeWork Documentary Relives Its Roller Coaster Story," 17 Mar. 2021 Vander Ploeg blames his friend’s downfall on politics. Marc Freeman,, "Public corruption charges still hang over ex-Boca mayor Susan Haynie," 7 Mar. 2021 Last season, a 3-for-15 performance at the free-throw line was Purcell Marian's downfall in a one-point loss to the Rockets. Shelby Dermer, The Enquirer, "Purcell Marian outlasts Anna for revenge in Division III regional semifinal, 49-44," 4 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for downfall

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for downfall

Last Updated

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Downfall.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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 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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