down·​fall | \ ˈdau̇n-ˌfȯl How to pronounce downfall (audio) \

Definition of downfall

1a : a sudden fall (as from power)
b : a fall (as of snow or rain) especially when sudden or heavy
2 : something that causes a downfall (as of a person) gambling was his downfall

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Other Words from downfall

downfallen \ ˈdau̇n-​ˌfȯ-​lən How to pronounce downfall (audio) \ adjective

Examples of downfall in a Sentence

Their downfall was the result of several bad decisions. Bad decision-making was their downfall.
Recent Examples on the Web But that desperation is what will ultimately be his downfall. Kyle Fowle,, 27 Sep. 2021 Unfortunately, it’s that latter issue which could prove to be the Eagles’ downfall in 2021. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 13 Sep. 2021 Loneliness can be the unexpected downfall for an entrepreneur just a few months in. Molly Baker, WSJ, 2 June 2021 Trump’s policies may be the ultimate downfall for Democrats. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 June 2021 This time, the spotlight was much more harsh as Cuomo's once-beloved news conference featured his own political downfall. Lauren Dezenski, CNN, 13 Aug. 2021 His downfall came amid a storm of corporate turnover and backstabbing, and Yetnikoff’s personal chaos. Hillel Italie, ajc, 11 Aug. 2021 His closest family members all left Michigan following his downfall, including his father and codefendant Bernard Kilpatrick; his mother, the former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, his three sons and his now ex-wife, Carlita Kilpatrick. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, 10 Aug. 2021 Instead, something Condie didn’t see ended up leading to her literal downfall. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'downfall.' 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 downfall

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of downfall was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Downfall.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of downfall

: a sudden loss of power, happiness, success, etc.
: something that causes failure


down·​fall | \ ˈdau̇n-ˌfȯl How to pronounce downfall (audio) \

Kids Definition of downfall

: a sudden fall (as from power, happiness, or a high position) or the cause of such a fall the downfall of the Roman Empire Greed proved to be his downfall.

Other Words from downfall

downfallen \ -​ˌfȯl-​ən \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on downfall

Nglish: Translation of downfall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of downfall for Arabic Speakers


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