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Alternative forms[edit]


From down- +‎ fall. In this spelling, from 16th century; spelled as two words from 13th century.


  • (noun) IPA(key): /ˈdaʊnfɔːl/
    • (file)
  • (verb) IPA(key): /daʊnˈfɔːl/
  • (file)


downfall (countable and uncountable, plural downfalls)

  1. A precipitous decline in fortune; death or rapid deterioration, as in status or wealth.
    Synonyms: (precipitous decline in fortune) fall, (death or rapid deterioration) doom
    Many economic and political reasons led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.
  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

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]