Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Deadfall (sense 1) in a forest
A small deadfall (sense 2) in the style of the Paiute people of North America

dead +‎ fall.



deadfall (countable and uncountable, plural deadfalls)

  1. (uncountable, Canada, US) Coarse woody debris; deadwood.
    • 1967, Calvin S. Bromfield, “Introduction”, in Geology of the Mount Wilson Quadrangle, Western San Juan Mountains, Colorado: [] (Geological Survey Bulletin; 1227), Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 4047535, page 6:
      Heaver forest growth on the north-facing slopes, together with considerable deadfall and soil cover, makes geologic interpretation there difficult.
    1. (countable, specifically) A fallen tree.
      • 1988 February, Rachel Joan Dale; J. David McMahan, “Research Methodology and Results”, in Cultural Resources Survey of the Proposed North Douglas Highway Extension, Outer Point to Point Hilda (Project No. 68870) (Office of History and Archaeology; report no. 12), Anchorage, Ak.: Office of History and Archaeology, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, OCLC 23667003, page 9:
        A fifth negative test pit was excavated near the largest creek at Middle Point. As well, the roots of all deadfalls within the corridor were examined for the presence of cultural material. Deadfalls were more common in the drier areas, especially near stream channels.
      • 2012, Robin Hobb [pseudonym; Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden], City of Dragons (The Rain Wild Chronicles; 3), London: Harper Voyager, →ISBN:
        We should go up to the forest and see if we can find more dry deadfalls. That green wood you were trying to burn last night was all smoke and no heat.
  2. (countable, Canada, US, hunting) A kind of trap for animals, consisting of a heavy board or log that falls on to the prey.
    • 1859, Robert Kennicott, “The Quadrupeds of Illinois Injurious and Beneficial to the Farmer. [Wolverine, or Glutton.]”, in Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1858: Agriculture (House of Representatives, 35th Congress, 2d Session; executive document no. 105), Washington, D.C.: James B[lair] Steedman, printer, OCLC 37847832, page 246:
      It [the wolverine] is so cunning as rarely to enter a deadfall itself, but will carefully pull it to pieces and then eat the bait in safety. I was informed by hunters at Selkirk Settlement that they sometimes lost the successful result of several days' trapping by a single wolverine, which, following their path, would pull down every deadfall, or destroy any animal already caught.
    • 1876, John J. Rowan, “The Trapper”, in The Emigrant and Sportsman in Canada. [], London: Edward Stanford, [], OCLC 1013260884, page 369:
      The beaver trap is a deadfall of considerable weight, nicely adjusted over the animal's road or track, frequently on a dam. [] The animal passing under the deadfall has to step on a little stick raised an inch or two above the ground, and this brings down the deadfall on its back.
    • 1922 November 25, A[rthur] M[urray] Chisholm, “A Thousand a Plate”, in Western Story Magazine, volume XXX, number 4, New York, N.Y.: Street & Smith Corporation, OCLC 11910542, chapter II, page 90, column 2:
      It was a week after the taking of the black fox that Skookum Bill, on a short exploring trip a few miles west of their cabin, came across a deadfall which held a dead marten. He took the marten, and, when he returned, said to Dobbs: "I didn't know you'd built any deadfalls in the timber past the big draw?"
    • 1974, Alaska Planning Group, United States Department of the Interior, “History and Archeology”, in Final Environmental Statement: Proposed Lake Clark National Park, Alaska, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 83848758, part II (Description of the Environment), section A (Existing Environment), pages 61–62:
      Marten, wolverine, lynx, ermine, fox, mink, beaver, and land otter were plentiful in the general vicinity of Kijik and traps and deadfalls were set for them.
  3. (countable, US, slang) A cheap, rough bar or saloon.
    • 1873, [John O’Connor], “Wolf-traps—Continued”, in John Morris, editor, Wanderings of a Vagabond. An Autobiography, New York, N.Y.: Published by the author, OCLC 15275274, page 366:
      Dens of the description of the "Tapis Franc," and the "deadfalls" of San Francisco and Sacramento, are now matters of history only, and it seems beyond the bounds of probability that similar haunts of vice, and the brutal and lawless scenes there enacted, will ever again be permitted to disgrace our country, and the name of civilization.
    • 1879 November, C[harles] E[dward] Pickett, Land-gambling versus Mining-gambling. An Open Letter to Squire P. Dewey, Relative to His Participation in the Land-gambling of San Francisco in the Early Days. From One Who Knows, 2nd edition, San Francisco, Calif.: [s.n.], OCLC 12285067, page 9:
      [] I was an occasional dram-drinker at their saloon. I was never imposed upon by them with bad liquor, nor in any manner cheated there. I did not learn they kept loaded dice, marked cards, or any back-room "deadfall"—to rake the pockets of fuddled or drugged customers.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, New York, N.Y.: The Penguin Press, →ISBN, page 406; republished London: Vintage Books, 2007, →ISBN:
      They had lived down in horse barns, army “A” tents with the old blood-stains onto them, city hotels with canopy beds, woke up in back rooms of deadfalls where the bars had toothmarks end to end.


Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]