From Middle English fellen, from Old English fellan, fiellan (“to cause to fall, strike down, fell, cut down, throw down, defeat, destroy, kill, tumble, cause to stumble”), from Proto-West Germanic *fallijan, from Proto-Germanic *fallijaną (“to fell, to cause to fall”), causative of Proto-Germanic *fallaną (“to fall”), from Proto-Indo-European *peh₃lH- (“to fall”).
Cognate with Dutch vellen (“to fell, cut down”), German fällen (“to fell”), Danish fælde (“to fell”), Norwegian felle (“to fell”).
fell (third-person singular simple present fells, present participle felling, simple past and past participle felled)
- (transitive) To make something fall; especially to chop down a tree.
- 1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene ii]:
- Stand, or I'll fell thee down.
- 2011 October 2, Aled Williams, “Swansea 2 - 0 Stoke”, in BBC Sport Wales:
- Sinclair opened Swansea's account from the spot on 8 minutes after a Ryan Shawcross tackle had felled Wayne Routledge.
- 2014, Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Picador, →ISBN, page 219:
- As southeast Asia's forests were felled, the rhino's habitat shrank and became fragmented.
- (transitive) To strike down, kill, destroy.
- 2016 January 17, “What Weiner Reveals About Huma Abedin”, in Vanity Fair, retrieved 21 January 2016:
- This Sunday marks the debut of Weiner, a documentary that follows former congressman Anthony Weiner in his attempt to overcome a sexting scandal and run for mayor of New York City—only to be felled, somewhat inexplicably, by another sexting scandal.
- 1922, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Chessmen of Mars, HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2010:
- Gahan, horrified, saw the latter's head topple from its body, saw the body stagger and fall to the ground. ... The creature that had felled its companion was dashing madly in the direction of the hill upon which he was hidden, it dodged one of the workers that sought to seize it. … Then it was that Gahan's eyes chanced to return to the figure of the creature the fugitive had felled.
- 2010 September 27, Christina Passariello, “Prodos Capital, Samsung Make Final Cut for Ferré”, in Wall Street Journal, retrieved 2012-08-26:
- … could make Ferré the first major fashion label felled by the economic crisis to come out the other end of restructuring.
- (sewing) To stitch down a protruding flap of fabric, as a seam allowance, or pleat.
- 2006, Colette Wolff, The Art of Manipulating Fabric, page 296:
- To fell seam allowances, catch the lining underneath before emerging 1/4" (6mm) ahead, and 1/8" (3mm) to 1/4" (6mm) into the seam allowance.
- little strokes fell great oaks
fell (plural fells)
- A cutting-down of timber.
- The stitching down of a fold of cloth; specifically, the portion of a kilt, from the waist to the seat, where the pleats are stitched down.
- (textiles) The end of a web, formed by the last thread of the weft.
- fell stitch
From Middle English fell, fel, vel, from Old English fel, fell (“hide, skin, pelt”), from Proto-West Germanic *fell, from Proto-Germanic *fellą, from Proto-Indo-European *pél-no- (“skin, animal hide”).
See also West Frisian fel, Dutch vel, German Fell, Latin pellis (“skin”), Lithuanian plėnė (“skin”), Russian плена́ (plená, “pelt”), Albanian plah (“to cover”), Ancient Greek πέλλᾱς (péllās, “skin”). Related to film, felt, pell, and pelt.
fell (plural fells)
- An animal skin, hide, pelt.
- c. 1598–1600 (date written), William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iii], line 35:
- Why, we are still handling our ewes, and their fells, you know, are greasy.
- Human skin (now only as a metaphorical use of previous sense).
- c. 1390, William Langland, Piers Plowman, I:
- For he is fader of feith · fourmed ȝow alle / Bothe with fel and with face.
- c. 1390, William Langland, Piers Plowman, I:
From Middle English fell, felle (“hill, mountain”), from Old Norse fell, fjall (“rock, mountain”), compare Norwegian Bokmål fjell 'mountain', Danish fjeld 'mountain', from Proto-Germanic *felzą, *fel(e)zaz, *falisaz (compare German Felsen 'boulder, cliff', Middle Low German vels 'hill, mountain'), from Proto-Indo-European *pels-; compare Irish aill (“boulder, cliff”), Ancient Greek πέλλα (pélla, “stone”), Pashto پرښه (parṣ̌a, “rock, rocky ledge”), Sanskrit पाषाण (pāşāņá, “stone”). Doublet of fjeld.
fell (plural fells)
- (archaic outside UK) A rocky ridge or chain of mountains.
- 1886, Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston, The Squire of Sandal-Side : A Pastoral Romance:
- Every now and then the sea calls some farmer or shepherd, and the restless drop in his veins gives him no peace till he has found his way over the hills and fells to the port of Whitehaven, and gone back to the cradling bosom that rocked his ancestors.
- 1937, Tolkien, J.R.R., The Hobbit:
- The dwarves of yore made mighty spells, / While hammers fell like ringing bells, / In places deep, where dark things sleep, / In hollow halls beneath the fells.
- 1970, Herriot, James, If Only They Could Talk:
- I got out and from where I stood, high at the head, I could see all of the strangely formed cleft in the hills, its steep sides grooved and furrowed by countless streams feeding the boisterous Halden Beck which tumbled over its rocky bed far below. Down there, were trees and some cultivated fields, but immediately behind me the wild country came crowding in on the bowl where the farmhouse lay. Halsten Pike, Alstang, Birnside—the huge fells with their barbarous names were very near.
- 1971, Cookson, Catherine, The Dwelling Place:
- She didn't know at first why she stepped off the road and climbed the bank on to the fells; it wasn't until she found herself skirting a disused quarry that she realised where she was making for, and when she reached the place she stood and gazed at it. It was a hollow within an outcrop of rock, not large enough to call a cave but deep enough to shelter eight people from the rain, and with room to spare.
- (archaic outside UK) A wild field or upland moor.
- 1612, Michael Drayton, Poly-Olbion, song 11 p. 174:
- As over Holt and Heath, as thorough Frith and Fell;
- 1948 March and April, O. S. Nock, “Scottish Night Mails of the L.M.S.R.—2”, in Railway Magazine, page 77:
- The night continued beautifully clear and fine, and as we came into the fell country the outlines of the hills showed up dark against the starlit sky.
- 2022 November 2, Paul Bigland, “New trains, old trains, and splendid scenery”, in RAIL, number 969, page 57:
- And there are few better ways to enjoy the rugged bleakness of the fells than from a nice warm train, especially when the weather's constantly changing as the day slips away.
From Middle English fel, fell (“strong, fierce, terrible, cruel, angry”), from Old English *fel, *felo, *fæle (“cruel, savage, fierce”) (only in compounds, wælfel (“bloodthirsty”), ealfelo (“evil, baleful”), ælfæle (“very dire”), etc.), from Proto-West Germanic *fali, *falu, from Proto-Germanic *faluz (“wicked, cruel, terrifying”), from Proto-Indo-European *pol- (“to pour, flow, swim, fly”). Cognate with Old Frisian fal (“cruel”), Middle Dutch fel (“wrathful, cruel, bad, base”), German Low German fell (“rash, swift”), Danish fæl (“disgusting, hideous, ghastly, grim”). Compare also Middle High German vālant (“imp”). See felon.
fell (comparative feller, superlative fellest)
- Of a strong and cruel nature; eager and unsparing; grim; fierce; ruthless; savage.
- c. 1591–1592 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene vi]:
- […] While we devise fell tortures for thy faults.
- 1662, [Samuel Butler], “[The First Part of Hudibras]”, in Hudibras. The First and Second Parts. […], London: […] John Martyn and Henry Herringman, […], published 1678, →OCLC; republished in A[lfred] R[ayney] Waller, editor, Hudibras: Written in the Time of the Late Wars, Cambridge: University Press, 1905, →OCLC, canto 2:
- And many a serpent of fell kind, / With wings before, and stings behind
- 1862, Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London:
- […] but if it be solitary with the position of an incisor, will it even then bear out Professor Owen's hypothesis, that Thylacoleo, which he infers to have been one of “the fellest and most destructive of predatory beasts, […]
- 1892, James Yoxall, chapter 5, in The Lonely Pyramid:
- The desert storm was riding in its strength; the travellers lay beneath the mastery of the fell simoom. Whirling wreaths and columns of burning wind, rushed around and over them.
- 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XIX, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, →OCLC:
- No words had been exchanged between Upjohn and self on the journey out, but the glimpses I had caught of his face from the corner of the eyes had told me that he was grim and resolute, his supply of the milk of human kindness plainly short by several gallons. No hope, it seemed to me, of turning him from his fell purpose.
- (UK dialectal, Scotland) Strong and fiery; biting; keen; sharp; pungent
- (UK dialectal, Scotland) Very large; huge.
- (obsolete) Eager; earnest; intent.
- 1667 January 25 (date written; Gregorian calendar), Samuel Pepys; Mynors Bright, transcriber, “January 15th, 1666–1667”, in Henry B[enjamin] Wheatley, editor, The Diary of Samuel Pepys […], volume VI, London: George Bell & Sons […]; Cambridge: Deighton Bell & Co., published 1895, →OCLC:
- I am so fell to my business.
fell (comparative more fell, superlative most fell)
Perhaps from Latin fel (“gall, poison, bitterness”), or more probably from the adjective above.
- (obsolete, rare) Anger; gall; melancholy.
- 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book III, Canto XI”, in The Faerie Queene. […], London: […] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC:
- Untroubled of vile fear or bitter fell.
- 1885–1887, Gerard Manley Hopkins, “[Poem 45]”, in Robert Bridges, editor, Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins: Now First Published […], London: Humphrey Milford, published 1918, →OCLC, stanza 1, page 66:
- I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day. / What hours, O what black hoürs we have spent / This night!
- simple past tense of fall
- (now colloquial) past participle of fall
- 1650, Micheel Sandivogius, J. F., transl., A New Light of Alchymie: Taken Out of the Fountaine of Nature, and Manuall Experience […] , London: Richard Cotes, page 121:
- For I have heard that my Enemies have fell into that ſnare which they laid for mee. They which would have taken away my life have loſt their own; […]
- 2013 October 3, John McGahern, Collected Stories, Faber & Faber, →ISBN, page 147:
- And when it got to ten past I said you must have fell in with company, but I was beginning to get worried.' 'You know I never fall in with company,' he protested irritably. 'I always leave the Royal at ten to, never a minute more nor less.'
- Fell (disambiguation) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- Fell in the Encyclopædia Britannica (11th edition, 1911)
From Proto-Albanian *spesla, metathesized form of *spelsa, from Proto-Indo-European *pels- (“rock, boulder”), variant of *spel- (“to cleave, break”). Compare Latin hydronym Pelso, Latin Palatium, Pashto پرښه (parša, “rock, rocky ledge”), Ancient Greek πέλλα (pélla, “stone”), German Felsen (“boulder, cliff”). Mostly dialectal, used in Gheg Albanian.
fell n (genitive singular fells, nominative plural fell)
- Alternative form of fele (“good”)
- Alternative form of fille
- imperative of felle
- imperative of fella
From Proto-West Germanic *fell, whence also Old High German vel.
- inflection of falla:
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