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See also: Befall



From Middle English bifallen, from Old English befeallan, from Proto-Germanic *bifallaną; equivalent to be- +‎ fall.


  • (UK): IPA(key): /bɪˈfɔːl/
  • (US): IPA(key): /bɪˈfɔl/, IPA(key): (caught-cot merger) /bɪˈfɑl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔːl


befall (third-person singular simple present befalls, present participle befalling, simple past befell, past participle befallen)

  1. (transitive) To fall upon; fall all over; overtake
    At dusk an unusual calm befalls the wetlands.
  2. (intransitive) To happen.
    • 1485 July, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter I, in William Caxton, editor, Le Morte D’Arthur[1], volume 1:
      It befell in the days of Uther Pendragon [...] that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time.
  3. (transitive) To happen to.
    Temptation befell me.
    • 1885–1888, Richard F[rancis] Burton, transl. and editor, Supplemental Nights to the Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night [], Shammar edition, volume (please specify the volume), [London]: [] Burton Club [], →OCLC:
      But as soon as her son espied her, bowl in hand, he thought that haply something untoward had befallen her, but he would not ask of aught until such time as she had set down the bowl, when she acquainted him with that which had occurred []
    • c. 1595–1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “A Midsommer Nights Dreame”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i]:
      I beseech your grace that I may know / The worst that may befall me.
    • 2013 April 15, Walter Russell Mead, “The Wreck of the Euro”, in The American Interest[2], retrieved 2013-04-16:
      As we’ve said before, with the exception of communism itself, the euro has been the biggest economic catastrophe to befall the continent (and the world) since the 1930s.
    • 2021 December 29, Stephen Roberts, “Stories and facts behind railway plaques: Reading (1840)”, in Rail, number 947, page 57:
      This wasn't the last tragedy to befall Reading. There were fatal accidents involving trains in 1855 and 1914, while on a lesser scale T E Lawrence (of Arabia) lost his precious manuscript of Seven Pillars of Wisdom when changing trains in 1919.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To fall.
    • c. 1620, anonymous, “Tom o’ Bedlam’s Song” in Giles Earle his Booke (British Museum, Additional MSS. 24, 665):
      With a thought I tooke for Maudline
      & a cruse of cockle pottage.
      with a thing thus tall, skie blesse you all:
      I befell into this dotage.


Derived terms[edit]



befall (plural befalls)

  1. Case; instance; circumstance; event; incident; accident.
    • 1495, William Caxton, Vitas Patrum:
      Or he had tolde al his befall.
    • 1990, India. Parliament. House of the People, India. Parliament. Lok Sabha, Lok Sabha debates:
      This is proposed to be done by moving necessary amendment in this befall to the Finance Bill.
    • 1994, Socialist Party (India), Janata: Volume 49:
      He said "I would advise people to cultivate frugal habits. I will not commit the crime of making them helpless by saying that they have no responsibility whatever in the befall of calamities like old age, illness, accident, etc. [...]"
    • 1996, Thomas Pfau, Rhonda Ray Kercsmar, Rhetorical and cultural dissolution in romanticism:
      [...], the word "care" asserting itself subliminally in somewhat the same way that "fall" does in the "befall" of "Infant Joy."





  • IPA(key): /bəˈfal/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: be‧fall
  • Rhymes: -al



  1. singular imperative of befallen




  1. imperative of befalla