fall

1 of 3

verb

fell ˈfel How to pronounce fall (audio) ; fallen ˈfȯ-lən How to pronounce fall (audio) ; falling

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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 sinJohn Hick
especially : to lose one's chastity
6
a
: 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
7
a
: 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

2 of 3

noun

1
: the act of falling by the force of gravity
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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 compare standard sense 8b
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
5
a
: 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
6
a
: 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
8
a
: the distance which something falls
9
a
: 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

fall

3 of 3

adjective

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

Examples of fall in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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
After cooking and eating tilapia purchased from a local market in July, Laura Barajas, 40, fell ill almost immediately. Cara Lynn Shultz, Peoplemag, 18 Sep. 2023 Average hourly earnings for workers in car manufacturing have fallen about 19%, adjusted for inflation, EPI Senior Economist Adam S. Hersh wrote last week. Allison Morrow, CNN, 18 Sep. 2023 Adjusted for inflation, wages for autoworkers in the United States have fallen 19% since 2008, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning research group. Compiled By Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 18 Sep. 2023 Those were necessary steps, ones that are crucial for player development, scouting, and other aspects of the game where the Sox had fallen behind their competition. Peter Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Sep. 2023 Even at home, children with selective mutism may fall silent when anyone other than a family member is present. Marisa Cohen, Parents, 18 Sep. 2023 On a recent visit to Lampedusa, several of the boats, battered by the sea and falling apart, could be seen in the port. Gaia Pianigiani, New York Times, 18 Sep. 2023 But President Biden does not fall within the Presidential Records Act. NBC News, 17 Sep. 2023 The figure still falls short of women’s share of the U.S. population — just over 50%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — and masks significant variation at the state level. Aaron Mendelson, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2023
Noun
Keep scrolling to find even more fall shoe styles from Target that are less than $50. Megan Schaltegger, Peoplemag, 8 Sep. 2023 Jean-Pierre stressed the U.S. is in its strongest position yet to fight COVID and the viruses responsible for most of fall and winter hospitalizations Philip Landrigan, a physician and public health expert at Boston College, said there is no need for a national mask mandate right now. Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2023 If using a winter cover crop, gardeners should plant in early fall and mow in spring after flowering but before the plants set seeds and become weeds. oregonlive, 7 Sep. 2023 On the pink carpet at The Manhattan Center, Gigi impressed onlookers in a vibrant yellow form-fitting midi-dress from Ferragamo’s fall 2023 collection (look 49, to be precise), featuring a daringly-high thigh slit. Alex Kessler, Vogue, 7 Sep. 2023 Spring through fall is a spectacular time to explore the alpine scenery on foot, peep native animals, stop at mountain huts for delicious food, and soak in the sweeping views. Lindsay Cohn, Travel + Leisure, 7 Sep. 2023 General admission tickets cost $12 on Eventbrite. More from the crew here Our fall preview is here! Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2023 This week is the first big foray into fall festival season, with the annual Adams Morgan Day block party, free outdoor jazz festivals in Silver Spring and Rosslyn, and a celebration of Maryland’s hard cider at an orchard and cidery in Montgomery County. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 The organization’s 700 members voted to add child care to its list of advocacy issues last fall. Claire Stremple, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Aug. 2023
Adjective
On 31 March, shortly after Dior’s pre-fall extravaganza at the Gateway of India, the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre officially opened its doors in Mumbai, with the likes of Gigi Hadid, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Karlie Kloss turning out for the red-carpet launch. Akanksha Kamath, Vogue, 3 Apr. 2023 The fashion industry experienced a first on Thursday: Dior showed its pre-fall collection in Mumbai, marking the first time a major fashion label outside of India has shown in the country. Kevin Leblanc, ELLE, 31 Mar. 2023 Quantumania Los Angeles premiere in a trailing cheetah-print Caroline Herrera strapless gown (pulled straight off the pre-fall runway!) and black heels with asymmetrical straps. Zizi Strater, Peoplemag, 7 Feb. 2023 Although playground surfaces have been investigated for fall impact attenuation, the surfaces that cheerleaders use have received little attention. Ncbi Rofl, Discover Magazine, 21 Jan. 2010 The band is gearing up for a fall European tour, followed by a long tour of the United States, including the group’s annual three-day GroundUP Music Festival in Miami Beach, named after the band’s record label. Dallas News, 4 Oct. 2022 While silhouette options are many, the full-legged pantsuit leads the pre-fall pack, and short suits (for men and women) are a close second. Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue, 9 Jan. 2023 Last week, Chanel staged its new pre-fall 2023 show in Dakar, Senegal. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 12 Dec. 2022 Olsen is supporting the project on a fall European tour, beginning next week in Lisbon. Jonathan Cohen, SPIN, 20 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fall.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb, Noun, and Adjective

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

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

Adjective

1677, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near fall

Cite this Entry

“Fall.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fall. Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

fall

1 of 2 verb
fell ˈfel How to pronounce fall (audio) ; fallen ˈfȯ-lən How to pronounce fall (audio) ; falling
1
a
: to come or go down freely by the force of gravity
b
: to hang freely
hair falling over her shoulders
c
: to drop oneself to a lower position
fell to their knees
d
: to come as if by dropping down
night fell
2
a
: to become of lower degree or level
the temperature fell 10°
b
: to become lowered
his eyes fell
3
a
: to topple from an upright position suddenly
slipped and fell on the ice
b
: to enter blindly : stray
fell into a trap
c
: to drop down wounded or dead
soldiers who have fallen in battle
d
: to become captured or defeated
the fortress fell
e
: to experience ruin or failure
our plans fell through
4
: to fail to live up to a standard of conduct
5
a
: to move or extend downward
the ground falls away to the east
b
: to become less in amount or degree : diminish
the tide is falling
c
: to become less in quality, activity, quantity, or value
prices fell
d
: to take on a look of shame or low spirits
my face fell when I lost
6
a
: to occur at a certain time
my birthday falls on a Tuesday
b
: to come by chance
c
: to pass (as a responsibility) from one person to another
it fell to us to break the news
d
: to have the proper place or station
the accent falls on the second syllable
7
: to come within the range of something
falls under her responsibilities
8
: to pass from one condition of body or mind to another
fall ill
fall asleep
9
: to set about with enthusiasm or activity
fell to work

fall

2 of 2 noun
1
: the act of falling by the force of gravity
a fall from a horse
2
a
: a falling out, off, or away
the fall of the leaves
c
: a thing or quantity that falls or has fallen
a heavy fall of snow
3
a
: loss of greatness : collapse
b
: the surrender or capture of a place under attack
c
: departure from innocence or goodness
4
a
: the downward slope of a hill
b
: waterfall
usually used in plural
5
: a decrease in size, quantity, degree, activity, or value
6
: the distance which something falls
7
: an act of forcing a wrestler's shoulders to the mat

More from Merriam-Webster on fall

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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