pratfall

play
noun prat·fall \ˈprat-ˌfȯl\

Definition of pratfall

  1. 1 :  a fall on the buttocks

  2. 2 :  a humiliating mishap or blunder

Examples of pratfall in a sentence

  1. He slipped and took a pratfall into the mud.

Did You Know?

The human posterior has been given a number of designations over the centuries, some not acceptable in polite company. "Prat," a slang term with only slightly indecorous overtones, has been used in reference to the backside since the 16th century. It wasn't until the 1930s, however, that falling on one's prat gave rise to the term "pratfall." The word first cropped up in the lingo of comedy theater, where a pratfall is often part of a slapstick routine. It wasn't long before we gave the word its extended sense of "blunder." Now, with "prat" rarely used as a synonym of "derriere" anymore, "pratfall" is as apt to suggest getting a pie in the face as landing bang on one's behind.

Origin and Etymology of pratfall

argot prat buttocks + fall


First Known Use: 1930


PRATFALL Defined for English Language Learners

pratfall

play
noun prat·fall \ˈprat-ˌfȯl\

Definition of pratfall for English Language Learners

  • : a sudden fall in which you end up sitting on the ground

  • : an embarrassing mistake or accident



Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a supporter of a cause, belief, etc.

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • snowflake-closeup
  • Which is a synonym of imprecate?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ