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

Missed opportunities and penalties led to Burbank’s downfall in the zero week game. Jeff Tully, Burbank Leader, "Weekly Football Previews: Burroughs vs. Victor Valley; Burbank vs. Golden Valley," 27 Aug. 2019 The big plays became the downfall in the championship game when Clemson hit on plays of 26-plus yards on each of the five offensive touchdown drives. Michael Casagrande |,, "What Alabama football should fix in 2019," 11 July 2019 That stubbornness was on display in the email thread that caused Stallman's downfall at MIT. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Richard Stallman leaves MIT after controversial remarks on rape," 17 Sep. 2019 Over decades of research, Defeo and his colleagues have chronicled the species' downfall amid warming waters: The clams are now much smaller, rarer and increasingly contaminated by toxic red tides - making them unsafe to eat for weeks at a time. Chris Mooney, Anchorage Daily News, "Large parts of the globe have already passed a crucial climate threshold," 11 Sep. 2019 To shift the West’s focus from Ukraine and create additional leverage on the U.S. and its allies, Moscow successfully intervened in Syria, rescuing Assad’s regime from downfall. Leonid Ragozin, Time, "Moscow's Elections Show Putin Is Losing the War at Home," 10 Sep. 2019 The civilization’s abrupt downfall remains one of the great mysteries of the ancient world. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "Genome of nearly 5000-year-old woman links modern Indians to ancient civilization," 5 Sep. 2019 The book’s central character is founder Travis Kalanick, whose steady rise and ultimately humiliating downfall has long been in the news. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Uber’s guerrilla tactics and tech-bro parties chronicled in ‘Super Pumped’," 5 Sep. 2019 Owner Debi Jin blamed the restaurant’s downfall on the high costs of doing business in the Bay Area. Janelle Bitker,, "Two of the Bay Area’s only Indonesian restaurants to close," 23 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for downfall

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for downfall

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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