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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from downfall

downfallen \ -​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

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 Sun’s failure to obtain approval from senior party figures for his political ambitions was the most likely cause of his downfall, said Ding Xueliang, an expert on Chinese politics at Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology. Christopher Bodeen,, "China hands former political high-flyer life sentence for graft," 9 May 2018 Do not compare yourself to others because that is your greatest downfall. Helena Oliviero, ajc, "What it takes: DeKalb valedictorians share secrets to success," 16 May 2018 Christiansen’s ascension to the top of the 35,000-employee agency follows the ignominious downfall this week of its former chief, Tony Tooke, amid allegations of relationships with subordinates. Washington Post, "US Forest Service interim chief confronts misconduct scandal," 9 Mar. 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.

See More

First Known Use of downfall

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about downfall

Statistics for downfall

Last Updated

18 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for downfall

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


the way words of a language are spelled

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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