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
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
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).