\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

An astounding 3 million adults 65 and older (that’s one in four) experience falls that send them to emergency departments each year, according to the CDC, often resulting in serious injuries like hip fractures. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Emergency Responders Share 9 of the Biggest Death Traps in Your Home," 14 July 2018 More Active managers have long argued volatility and falling indexes would help them gain on their passive rivals while showcasing their stock- and bond-picking skills. Justin Baer, WSJ, "The Investor Fever for Passive Funds Is Cooling in 2018," 13 July 2018 Factoring in the outdoors, something as subtle as falling leaves can result in a false alert; a big truck rumbling down the road might also set off a notification of potential trouble when there’s really none. Diane Cowen, San Antonio Express-News, "Home security is more affordable — and better —than ever," 12 July 2018 Drew Medlin sees the impact of the trade war in the falling prices for his Union County soybeans. Deon Roberts, Jim Morrill And Hannah Lang, charlotteobserver, "From breweries to the farm, Trump tariff war produces winners and losers in Charlotte," 12 July 2018 And even if the falling trees do make a noise, there won't be a human driver around to hear it. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "Sweden's Electric Robo-Truck Is Made for Life in the Forest," 12 July 2018 Lane, 67, has been conducting cave rescues since the 1970s, including such high-profile operations as the 1991 rescue of a female caver injured by a falling rock in New Mexico's Lechuguilla Cave, the deepest cave in the United States. Bo Emerson, ajc, "Cave rescuers in Southeast watch their Thai colleagues with admiration," 10 July 2018 But Narongsak said earlier that recent mild weather and falling water levels had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation. Author: Tassanee Vejpongsa, Kaweewit Kaewjinda, Anchorage Daily News, "4 rescued from Thai cave in risky operation; 9 remain inside," 9 July 2018 But Narongsak said earlier that recent mild weather and falling water levels had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation. Tassanee Vejpongsa And Kaweewit Kaewjinda, Houston Chronicle, "4 rescued from Thai cave in risky operation; 9 remain inside," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

West Wilmette parents whose children will attend Romona Elementary School this fall want the village to give the school a third crossing guard, near Wilmette Junior High School, to ensure that children can cross Locust Road safely. Kathy Routliffe, chicagotribune.com, "Romona School parents ask Wilmette for Locust Road crossing guard," 12 July 2018 University officials said in June that MU is expecting this fall's freshman class to grow more than 14 percent. Mará Rose Williams, kansascity, "MU’s record fundraising crosses $1 billion, a sign of recovery from 2015 protests," 11 July 2018 Beginning its sixth year this fall, the program already has measured success with students who have now graduated college with degrees in science and engineering. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "Rocketry students at LHS shooting for the sky," 7 July 2018 Promoter Tom Gamble has been seen about town and information on this fall's Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown will be coming soon. Scott Springer, Cincinnati.com, "Springer: Let the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky high school football hype begin," 6 July 2018 The Lord’s Place Men’s Campus in Boynton Beach will be renamed the William H. Mann Place this fall, according to a newsletter. Austen Erblat, Sun-Sentinel.com, "The Lord's Place receives $1M gift, renovations and new name," 6 July 2018 Ella, who will be an 8th-grader this fall, performs in the school’s choir and show choir. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Ella Whistler and Jason Seaman lead the Noblesville Fourth of July parade," 4 July 2018 This fall, Last Man Standing will come back from cancelation on Fox—not ABC. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "‘Last Man Standing’ Is Recasting Two Major Characters Before Season 7," 3 July 2018 Chandler, who has dwarfism, also played field hockey this past fall. BostonGlobe.com, "2017-17 Para Athlete All-Scholastics," 29 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fall

Statistics for fall

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fall

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!