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 Cabimas’s desolation marks a swift downfall for a town that just a decade ago was one of the richest in Venezuela. Isayen Herrera, New York Times, "Venezuela, Once an Oil Giant, Reaches the End of an Era," 7 Oct. 2020 Following the downfall of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan sought to export its oil and gas without relying on the Russian pipeline network. Ann M. Simmons And David Gauthier-villars, WSJ, "Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: What’s Behind the Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh," 29 Sep. 2020 Lebanon's ruling elite have been mired in political deadlock since late October 2019 when a popular uprising demanded the downfall of the country's confessional power-sharing system and toppled the government of former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "Lebanon's PM-designate, named as part of French initiative to save the country, steps down," 26 Sep. 2020 The city was already in a financial downfall compounded by political corruption and government mismanagement that was only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Vandana Rambaran, Fox News, "Pope holds first public audience in months, prays for Beirut and solidarity during coronavirus pandemic," 2 Sep. 2020 The announcement on Thursday comes just weeks after the company filed for bankruptcy adding to a long list of retailers thrown into a financial downfall by the coronavirus. NBC News, "Iconic department store Lord & Taylor to close all stores," 28 Aug. 2020 John Edwards’ $400 haircut (which was leaked to the media by the Obama campaign) was the beginning of the presidential hopeful’s downfall. Heidi Stevens Chicago Tribune (tns), Star Tribune, "Trump's $70,000 in hair care expenses puts all previous hair scandals to shame," 29 Sep. 2020 John Edwards' $400 haircut (which was leaked to the media by the Obama campaign) was the beginning of the presidential hopeful’s downfall. Heidi Stevens,, "Column: Donald Trump’s $70,000 in hair care expenses puts all previous hair scandals to shame. (Including, obviously, mine.)," 28 Sep. 2020 Galoup’s downfall is brought on by his jealousy and obsession with and a beautiful young man in his unit; his suicide seems imminent. New York Times, "‘Beau Travail’ Finds the Rhythm of Life (and Dances Away the Pain)," 28 Sep. 2020

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

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

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Statistics for downfall

Last Updated

15 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Downfall.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for downfall


How to pronounce downfall (audio)

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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