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From down- +‎ fall.


downfall (countable and uncountable, plural downfalls)

  1. A precipitous decline in fortune; death or rapid deterioration, as in status or wealth.
    Many economic and political reasons led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.
    • 2012 May 13, Alistair Magowan, “Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      The Black Cats contributed to their own downfall for the only goal when Titus Bramble, making his first appearance since Boxing Day, and Michael Turner, let Phil Jones' cross bounce across the six-yard box as Rooney tucked in at the back post.
  2. The cause of such a fall; a critical blow or error.
    • Orson Scott Card
      It is the downfall of evil, that it never sees far enough ahead.
  3. An act of falling down.
    a downfall of rain
    • Thomas Hardy, A Laodicean
      [] as Somerset had understood the play, there could occur no flingings of her person upon her lover's neck, or agonized downfalls upon the stage, in her whole performance []


  • (precipitous decline in fortune): fall
  • (death or rapid deterioration): doom

Derived terms[edit]



downfall (third-person singular simple present downfalls, present participle downfalling, simple past downfell, past participle downfallen)

  1. (intransitive) To fall down; deteriorate; decline.
    • 1977, Mina P. Shaughnessy, Errors and expectations: a guide for the teacher of basic writing:
      [...] wants to make civilization his subject, he will have a hard time proceeding with the sentence unless collapse is in his active vocabulary, for he cannot say "our civilization will downfall" or "fall down."
    • 1998, Peter Vink, Ernst A. P. Koningsveld, Steven Dhondt, Human factors in organizational design and management-VI:
      Common belief has been that in the future the number of middle managers will downfall due to empowerment and team-building.
    • 1998, Lithuanian physics journal:
      It should be noted that the magnitude of satellites decreases when tuning out of degeneracy, and in the wavelength range of 1.2-1.3 pm it downfalls to the value of 10-15% of the main spike magnitude.
    • 2008, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra:
      [...] As goodly air as ever From lunar orb downfell— Be it by hazard, Or supervened it by arrogancy?

Derived terms[edit]