\ˈfȯl \
fell\ ˈfel \; fallen\ ˈfȯ-​lən \; falling

Definition of fall 

(Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to descend freely by the force of gravity An apple fell from the tree.

b : to hang freely her hair falls over her shoulders

c : to drop oneself to a lower position fell to his knees

d : to come or go as if by falling darkness falls early in the winter

2 : to become born usually used of lambs

3a : to become lower in degree or level the temperature fell 10°

b : to drop in pitch or volume their voices fell to a whisper

c : issue sense 1a wisdom that fell from his lips

d : to become lowered her eyes fell

4a : to leave an erect position suddenly and involuntarily slipped and fell on the ice

b : to enter as if unawares : stumble, stray fell into error We fell into a trap.

c : to drop down wounded or dead especially : to die in battle Many men fell on the battlefield.

d : to suffer military capture after a long siege the city fell

e : to lose office the party fell from power

f : to suffer ruin, defeat, or failure the deal fell through

5 : to commit an immoral act but man willfully misused his God-given freedom and fell into sin— John Hick especially : to lose one's chastity

6a : to move or extend in a downward direction the land falls away to the east

b : subside, abate the wind is falling

c : to decline in quality, activity, or quantity production fell off

d : to lose weight used with off or away The cattle have fallen off badly in the drought.

e : to assume a look of shame, disappointment, or dejection his face fell

f : to decline in financial value or price stocks fell sharply

7a : to occur at a certain time her birthday falls on a Monday this year

b : to come by chance a job that fell into his hands

c : to come or pass by lot, assignment, or inheritance : devolve it fell to him to break the news

d : to have a certain or proper position, place, or station the accent falls on the second syllable

8 : to come within the limits, scope, or jurisdiction of something this word falls into the class of verbs

9 : to pass suddenly and passively into a state of body or mind or a new state or condition fall asleep fall in love

10 : to set about heartily or actively fell to work

11 : strike, impinge music falling on the ear

fall all over oneself or fall over oneself or fall over backward

: to display great or excessive eagerness Fans were falling all over themselves trying to get the basketball star's autograph.

fall apart

1 : disintegrate The pie was falling apart as I served it.

2 : to succumb to mental or emotional stress : break down She began to fall apart when her son was imprisoned.

fall behind

1 : to lag behind The slower hikers fell behind the group.

2 : to be in arrears He fell behind in his car payments.

fall between two stools

: to fail because of inability to choose between or reconcile two alternative or conflicting courses of action

fall flat

: to produce no response or result the joke fell flat

fall for

1 : to fall in love with He fell for her the moment he saw her.

2 : to become a victim of fell for the trick

fall from grace

: to lose acceptance or good reputation The governor fell from grace when he was accused of tax fraud.

fall home

: to curve inward used of the timbers or upper parts of a ship's side

fall into line

: to comply with a certain course of action The company fell into line with the new regulations.

fall on or fall upon

: to meet with fell on hard times

fall on one's face

: to fail utterly the movie fell on its face at the box office

fall on one's sword

: to sacrifice one's pride or position The coach fell on his sword apologizing for the team's poor season.

fall short

1 : to be deficient The expedition's supplies began to fall short.

2 : to fail to attain something (such as a goal or target) The results fell short of expectations.



Definition of fall (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : the act of falling by the force of gravity

2a : a falling out, off, or away : dropping the fall of leaves a fall of snow

b : the season when leaves fall from trees : autumn

c : a thing or quantity that falls or has fallen a fall of rock at the base of the cliff especially : one or more meteorites or their fragments that have fallen together

d(1) : birth

(2) : the quantity born usually used of lambs

3a : a costume decoration of lace or thin fabric arranged to hang loosely and gracefully

b : a very wide turned-down collar worn in the 17th century

c : the part of a turnover collar from the crease to the outer edge

d : a wide front flap on trousers (such as those worn by sailors)

e : the freely hanging lower edge of the skirt of a coat

f : one of the three outer and often drooping segments of the flower of an iris

g : long hair overhanging the face of dogs of some breeds

h : a usually long straight portion of hair that is attached to a person's own hair

4 : a hoisting-tackle rope or chain especially : the part of it to which the power is applied

5a : loss of greatness : collapse the fall of the Roman Empire

b : the surrender or capture of a besieged place the fall of Troy

c : lapse or departure from innocence or goodness

d : loss of a woman's chastity

e : the blame for a failure or misdeed took the fall for the robbery

6a : the downward slope (as of a hill) : declivity

b : a precipitous descent of water : waterfall usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction

c : a musical cadence

d : a falling-pitch intonation in speech

7 : a decrease in size, quantity, degree, or value

8a : the distance which something falls

b : inclination, pitch

9a : the act of felling something

b : the quantity of trees cut down

c(1) : an act of forcing a wrestler's shoulders to the mat for a specified time (such as one second)

(2) : a bout of wrestling

10 Scotland : destiny, lot



Definition of fall (Entry 3 of 3)

: of, relating to, or suitable for autumn a new fall coat

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Examples of fall in a Sentence


An apple fell from the tree. A vase fell off the shelf. Rain fell from the sky. the sound of the falling rain She slipped and fell on the ice. He fell flat on his face. She was afraid that I would trip and fall. He fell down the stairs. One of the sailors had fallen overboard. He fell back onto the bed.


a fall from a horse She's had several bad falls in recent years. a fall of three feet the rise and fall of the tide She went off to college in the fall. Several weeks of fall remain before winter begins. When fall came he planted grass. a fall in the price of oil
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Mukesh and Anil, now 59, fell into a dispute that lasted for more than a decade. Fortune, "8 Things to Know About Mukesh Ambani, Asia's Newest Richest Man," 13 July 2018 Piles of potential hurricane debris are being removed now so none of it falls into canals and causes flooding. Marci Shatzman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Boca Raton wins delay on plan to remove trees near residents' homes," 11 July 2018 Judicial confirmations would usually fall into that category. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Manchin, Donnelly Begin to Lay Groundwork for Voting to Confirm Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 France coach Didier Deschamps fell into Umtiti’s arms after the final whistle. Jerome Pugmire, The Seattle Times, "Superb defense takes France close to another World Cup title," 10 July 2018 Cheney and Addington wanted to ensure the president could remove Cheney if needed so that the country could not fall into the position of later having both an incapacitated president and vice president and no way to select a replacement. Erik Spanberg, The Christian Science Monitor, "'First In Line' profiles modern vice presidents from Nixon to Pence," 9 July 2018 Everything had begun to fall into place for Mandell to be the one to pull off the first successful attempt to bring pro soccer to Dillon Stadium. Shawn Mcfarland, courant.com, "How Local Businessman Bruce Mandell Brought Pro Soccer To Hartford," 13 July 2018 Crews were called to the area shortly after 8 a.m. The dog fell about 6 feet into the sewer, officials said. Lavendrick Smith, charlotteobserver, "A puppy fell deep inside a sewer pipe in Ballantyne. Here’s how it was rescued.," 12 July 2018 During her trial in 2009, a prosecutor told jurors that Mendez had fallen into a depression after her husband died and became frustrated after her teenage daughter got pregnant with Emmanuel. Marisa Gerber, latimes.com, "Judge orders release of woman who served 11 years behind bars in grandson's death," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Nelson-Johnson continued to tell police that the child’s injuries were the result of a fall, according to the news release. Talia Richman, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore couple faces 40 years in prison for 2017 death of baby," 13 July 2018 Gorillaz collaborator rapper Del The Funky Homosapien is still hospitalized due to fractured ribs and damaged lungs from a July 7 stage fall during the group's set at Denmark's Roskilde Festival, according to Damon Albarn. Sam Tornow, Billboard, "Damon Albarn Reveals That Del the Funky Homosapien Fractured Ribs, Punctured Lungs in Stage Fall," 12 July 2018 What is needed is a cheap and reliable way of finding out whether a particular set of plants have actually been stressed by a fall of acid rain. The Economist, "A cheap way to save rice plants from the effects of acid rain," 12 July 2018 Four required emergency evacuations, three by helicopter: one person with stress fractures in both feet, one who had a serious fall, and one who had a severe stomach bug and couldn’t keep any fluids down. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Here's What It Takes to Hike the John Muir Trail," 11 July 2018 Fox Searchlight is eyeing a fall shoot in Vancouver, giving Russell ample time to shoot her Star Wars role in the summer. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Keri Russell in Talks to Star in Guillermo del Toro-Produced Thriller 'Antlers' (Exclusive)," 11 July 2018 My bet would be that Odom and Mizzou have a nice fall. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Mellinger Minutes: Whit not an All-Star (?), Jeff Long and KU, Chiefs fears, Odom's crossroads," 10 July 2018 The group organizes a fall and spring clean-up of Chapel Road. Quoron Walker, Courant Community, "Captain John Bissell Trail Officially Designated," 10 July 2018 In the interview, Grohl talks about the band, surviving a fall during a concert, life as a member of Nirvana and forming the Foo Fighters. Hal Boedeker, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Dave Grohl talks Foo Fighters, Kurt Cobain on ‘CBS Sunday Morning’," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Read more about Macron’s moment of truth on his labor law: QuickTake Q&A Macron’s popularity has declined precipitously ahead of France’s traditional fall protest season. Mark Deen, Bloomberg.com, "French Unions Fail to Draw Big Crowds Against Macron Reform," 12 Sep. 2017 The battle for fall taste buds is now in full swing. Editors, USA TODAY, "The Vegas shooting, MH370: Sometimes there are no answers," 3 Oct. 2017 The improved health of local waters is highlighted by the now regular fall appearance of humpback whales feeding on large schools of Atlantic menhaden at the borders of New York harbor, within site of the Empire State Building. Mark Stoeckle, Smithsonian, "Scientists Can Tell What Fish Live Where Based On DNA in the Water," 13 Apr. 2017 Fall camp practices begin in Auburn today after players reported Sunday and there is much to be determined over the next five weeks. James Crepea, AL.com, "5 Auburn players with the most to gain during fall camp," 31 July 2017 As these vegetables play themselves out, switch gears and focus on fall vegetables. Debbie Arrington, sacbee, "Squash looking fried? Time to switch garden gears," 14 July 2017 The improved health of local waters is highlighted by the now regular fall appearance of humpback whales feeding on large schools of Atlantic menhaden at the borders of New York harbor, within site of the Empire State Building. Mark Stoeckle, Smithsonian, "Scientists Can Tell What Fish Live Where Based On DNA in the Water," 13 Apr. 2017 That should put him on track to at least participate somewhat in fall instructional league in September. Mike Berardino, Twin Cities, "Twins lose No. 3 prospect Alex Kirilloff for season to Tommy John surgery," 1 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fall.' 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 fall


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1677, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fall


Middle English, from Old English feallan; akin to Old High German fallan to fall and perhaps to Lithuanian pulti


see fall entry 1


see fall entry 1

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Statistics for fall

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fall

The first known use of fall was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for fall



English Language Learners Definition of fall

: to come or go down quickly from a high place or position

: to come or go down suddenly from a standing position

: to let yourself come or go down to a lower position


\ˈfȯl \
fell\ ˈfel \; fallen\ ˈfȯ-​lən \; falling

Kids Definition of fall

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to come or go down freely by the force of gravity An apple fell from the tree.

2 : to come as if by falling Night fell before we got home.

3 : to become lower (as in degree or value) The temperature fell ten degrees.

4 : to topple from an upright position The tree fell.

5 : to collapse wounded or dead Too many soldiers have fallen in battle.

6 : to become captured The city fell to the enemy.

7 : to occur at a certain time This year my birthday falls on a Monday.

8 : to pass from one condition of body or mind to another fall asleep fall ill

fall back

: retreat entry 2 sense 1 “… the Witch and her crew will … fall back to her house and prepare for a siege.”— C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

fall short

: to fail to be as good or successful as expected The sequel to my favorite movie fell short.



Kids Definition of fall (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of going or coming down by the force of gravity a fall from a horse

2 : autumn

3 : a thing or quantity that falls a heavy fall of snow

4 : a loss of greatness : downfall the fall of an empire

5 : waterfall usually used in pl. Niagara Falls

6 : a decrease in size, amount, or value a fall in prices

7 : the distance something falls a fall of three feet

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Comments on fall

What made you want to look up fall? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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