pratfall

noun
prat·​fall | \ ˈprat-ˌfȯl How to pronounce pratfall (audio) \

Definition of pratfall

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

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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.

Examples of pratfall in a Sentence

He slipped and took a pratfall into the mud.

Recent Examples on the Web

Zak takes frequent pratfalls and is often seen in various un-self-conscious states of undress, but the movie never makes him a figure of fun. Mark Olsenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Indie Focus: The joy of friendship in ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’," 9 Aug. 2019 Roesler doesn’t go in for pratfalls or silly voices. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "A funny, slapstick ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ from Capital Classics," 15 July 2019 Despite Aja starting as a swindler, his good heart carries him through pratfalls and perils. Michael Ordoña, latimes.com, "Review: Dhanush stars in agreeable ‘The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir’," 20 June 2019 And hand-wringing about his health and the possible long-term pratfalls doesn’t change the core truth at the base of this deal: The Sharks had to pay Karlsson this much or lose him forever. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: What Erik Karlsson’s mega contract means for the Sharks," 17 June 2019 This pratfall exposed Pei’s incomprehension of popular culture and his inability to express rebellious music architecturally and instead invested the design with the gravitas of a national memorial. Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books, "I.M. Pei: Establishment Modernism Lite," 24 May 2019 My belief is that Sam Darnold’s presence was a significant draw for the candidates involved, mitigating some of the pratfalls that were on the display the last few months. Albert Breer, SI.com, "After Firing GM Brian Gaine, Where Do the Texans Go From Here?," 10 June 2019 Its rambling public rooms are wildly theatrical, its more compact ones suggest an unexpected intimacy, and its over-the-top decorative features offer opportunities for any number of pratfalls. New York Times, "Summer’s Most Style-Savvy Movie Is a Cartoon," 3 July 2018 Its rambling public rooms are wildly theatrical, its more compact ones suggest an unexpected intimacy, and its over-the-top decorative features offer opportunities for any number of pratfalls. New York Times, "Summer’s Most Style-Savvy Movie Is a Cartoon," 3 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of pratfall

1930, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pratfall

argot prat buttocks + fall

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Dictionary Entries near pratfall

prat

pratal

prate

pratfall

pratie

pratimoksha

Pratincola

Statistics for pratfall

Last Updated

8 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for pratfall

The first known use of pratfall was in 1930

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More Definitions for pratfall

pratfall

noun

English Language Learners Definition of pratfall

: a sudden fall in which you end up sitting on the ground
: an embarrassing mistake or accident

More from Merriam-Webster on pratfall

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pratfall

Nglish: Translation of pratfall for Spanish Speakers

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