pratfall

play
noun prat·fall \ ˈprat-ˌfȯl \

Definition of pratfall

1 :a fall on the buttocks
2 :a humiliating mishap or blunder

pratfall was our Word of the Day on 01/23/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of pratfall in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of pratfall from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pratfall.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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


PRATFALL Defined for English Language Learners

pratfall

play
noun

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).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to curse or denounce

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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