\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

Williams broke for a 4-2 lead in the second when Goerges tried a rare drop shot that caught the top of the net tape and fell on her side. Howard Fendrich, Fox News, "Serena Williams nears 8th Wimbledon title, 24th Slam overall," 13 July 2018 Grotjan was flown to Germany, where he was put on life support after falling into a coma. Ruth Bruno, courant.com, "Waterford Airman Dies After Accident While Serving In United Arab Emirates," 13 July 2018 Dawn Sturgess, 44, died Sunday after falling ill June 30. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "British police identify source of Russian nerve agent that killed woman," 13 July 2018 The deer was liberated in Purcell’s side yard after falling asleep from the tranquilizer. Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Deer in distress from peanut butter jar is freed, Placer resident says," 12 July 2018 Stopping the Sahel from falling apart would be easier than putting it back together. The Economist, "Jihadists are trying to take over the Sahel," 12 July 2018 The two added lighting to the picturesque patio with a view of falling water and a rushing creek. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Rebellion Brewing opens its doors in Cedarburg, in the former Silver Creek Brewing space," 10 July 2018 Fall Workshop BLOOMFIELD — Public workshops to help people deal with the hazards of falling will be held on July 25, Aug. 22, Sept. 26, Oct. 24 and Nov. 28. Courant Community, "Community News For The Windsor Edition," 10 July 2018 So there was a floating rig that could support all the corn, with a hole in it that the kids would go through, and the latex was like a gasket to keep the corn from falling through the rig. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Why the hardest special effect on A Quiet Place was corn," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Loon lab in X’s Mountain View headquarters is piled with the results of generations of falls and spills. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Inside X, the Moonshot Factory Racing to Build the Next Google," 11 July 2018 Some jubilant Ethiopians compared it to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Washington Post, "Eritrea leader visits Ethiopia on Saturday in historic thaw," 13 July 2018 Oakland Hills Country Club will close and renovate its South Course beginning in the fall of 2019, a project that's scheduled to be completed in spring 2021, according to a news release. Tanya Wildt, Detroit Free Press, "Oakland Hills to close South Course 2 years for massive renovation," 13 July 2018 The company had posted sales declines in every quarter since the fall of 2016, including a 5.3 percent drop in its North American business reported in May. The latest: Will Papa John's Cardinal Stadium be renamed following N-word scandal? Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "John Schnatter's departure makes for better Papa John's stock price," 12 July 2018 To conduct the audit, Brown sent 18 students, of different ethnicities but of the same age and wearing similar, jeans-n-a-t-shirt type outfits, out to catch 1,704 Uber and Lyft trips from two pick-up spots in Los Angeles during the fall of 2017. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "The Good and Bad of Ride-Sharing When It Comes to Race," 11 July 2018 The section on the tablet comes from the Odyssey’s 14th rhapsody, which depicts the hero Odysseus’ adventures after the fall of Troy. Laignee Barron, Time, "Archaeologists Find What Could be the Oldest Written Record of Homer's 'Odyssey'," 11 July 2018 The next study will begin in the spring of 2019, Peterson said, and the public will be invited to a workshop in the fall of 2019 to view the alternatives. Brittany Wallman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "State forges ahead with New River pedestrian bridge or tunnel," 11 July 2018 Partner-in-crime Michelle Visage will also reportedly be a staple on the show, targeted for release in the fall of 2019. Henry Youtt, Billboard, "RuPaul Aims for Daytime With New Talk Show Pilot," 10 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

7 Oct 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

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