fall1 S1 W1 past tense fell past participle fallen
to move or drop down from a higher position to a lower position:
The tree was about to fall.
The book fell from his hands.
Enough rain had fallen to flood the grounds.
Rob fell down the stairs.
She flushed and her eyes fell (=she looked down).
to suddenly go down onto the ground after you have been standing, walking, or running, especially without intending to:
stop standing/walking etc[intransitive]
I fell and hit my head.
slip/stumble/trip etc and fall
He slipped and fell on the ice.
Lizzie fell down and hurt her knee.
Peter was playing by the river when he fell in (=fell into the water).
fall to/on your knees (=move down to the ground so that your body is resting on your knees)
She fell to her knees beside his body.
➔ fall flat on your faceat flat3 (5)
to go down to a lower level, amount, price etc, especially a much lower one [≠ rise]:
The rate of inflation was falling.
The island is warm all year round and winter temperatures never fall below 10 degrees.
He believes that educational standards are falling.
Advertising revenue fell from $98.5 million to $93.3 million.
The number of subscribers had fallen to 1000.
fall sharply/steeply (=by a large amount)
London share prices fell sharply yesterday.
to start to be in a new or different state
become[intransitive, linking verb]
I'll stay with her until she falls asleep.
I think that I've fallen in love with Angela.
She fell ill with flu.
Albert fell silent and turned his attention to his food.
The house was empty for many years and fell into disrepair.
One false step can mean falling into debt.
He fell into despair.
to belong to or be part of a particular group, area of responsibility, range of things, or type of things
belong to a group[intransitive always + preposition]
Many illnesses fall into the category of stress-related illnesses.
Leaders fall into two categories.
The judge said that this matter did not fall within the scope of the auditor's duties.
to be less than the amount or standard that is needed or that you want:
This year's profit will fall short of 13%.
He would sack any of his staff who fell short of his high standards.
to get a very serious illness or be attacked or deceived by someone:
Breastfed babies are less likely to fall victim to stomach disorders.
people who fall victim to violence
if night etc falls, it starts to become dark at the beginning of the night:
It grew colder as night fell.
Darkness had fallen by the time we reached home.
used to say that a person, group, or place becomes quiet, sad etc:
A long silence fell between us.
to start doing something or being involved with something, often without intending to:
start doing something[intransitive]
I fell into conversation with some guys from New York.
He had fallen into the habit of having a coffee every time he passed the coffee machine.
if parts of a situation that you have been trying to understand fall into place, you start to understand how they are connected with each other:
Suddenly, all the details started falling into place.
if the parts of something that you want to happen fall into place, they start to happen in the way that you want:
I was lucky because everything fell into place at exactly the right time.
to break into many pieces [= fall apart]:
The book had been well used and finally fell to pieces.
if something such as a plan or a relationship falls to pieces, it stops working properly [= fall apart]:
The family is falling to pieces.
if something is falling to pieces, it is in very bad condition, especially because it is very old [= be falling apart]:
The house is falling to pieces.
if a joke, remark, or performance falls flat, it fails to interest or amuse people:
Marlow's attempts at jokes fell flat.
to do something which makes someone angry or which breaks a rule, with the result that you are punished:
He is worried that his teenage kids will fall foul of the law.
to fail, or to stop being done, used, or made:
Health reform was one of his goals that fell by the wayside.
Luxury items fall by the wayside during a recession.
to stop being liked by people in authority:
He fell from grace for the first time when he was convicted of drink-driving.
to be forced to leave an important job or position, or lose the respect that people had for you
if something or someone falls into the hands of an enemy or dangerous person, the enemy etc gets control or possession of them:
He wants to prevent the business falling into the hands of a competitor.
We must not let these documents fall into the wrong hands.
to make a mistake that many people make:
Don't fall into the trap of feeling guilty.
to start to walk next to someone else, at the same speed as them
fall into step beside/with
Holly slowed her pace and fell into step with the old man.
to start doing something in the same way as the other members of a group
fall into step with
The other countries on the Council are expected to fall into step with the US.
to obey someone or do what other people want you to do, especially when you do not want to do it at first:
Most countries have signed the treaty but some are reluctant to fall into line.
to hang down loosely
hang down[intransitive always + adverb/preposition]
His dark hair fell over his face.
to shine on a surface or go onto a surface:
light/shadow[intransitive always + adverb/preposition]
The last rays of sunlight were falling on the fields.
Arthur's shadow fell across the doorway.
to happen on a particular day or at a particular time:
special event/celebration[intransitive always + adverb/preposition]
I'd like to dedicate this record to all whose anniversaries fall at this time of year.
Her birthday will fall on a Friday this year.
if a leader or a government falls, they lose their position of power:
The previous government fell after only 6 months in office.
if a place falls in a war or an election, a group of soldiers or a political party takes control of it
be taken by an enemy[intransitive]PMPPV
The city fell to the advancing Russian armies.
to be killed in a war [= die]
to hit a particular place or a particular part of someone's body
hit[intransitive always + adverb/preposition]
The first punch fell on his nose.
used to say that something is very easy to do
if someone's voice or a sound falls, it becomes quieter or lower [≠ rise]
32 British English
to be neither one type of thing nor another, or be unable to choose between two ways of doing something
33 British English
if a request, suggestion, joke etc falls on stony ground, it is ignored or people do not like it
if words fall from someone's lips, they say them
used to say that a particular part of a word, phrase, or piece of music is emphasized or is played more loudly than the rest:
In the word 'report', the stress falls on the second syllable.
➔ be/fall under a spellat spell2 (3)
; ➔ fall on your feetat foot1 (19)
; ➔ somebody's face fellat face1 (2)
; ➔ stand or fall by/onat stand1 (33)
fall aboutphrasal verb
It was so funny everyone just fell about laughing.
fall apartphrasal verb
if an organization, system, relationship etc falls apart, it stops being effective or successful:
Don't be reckless or your plans may fall apart.
The health service is falling apart at the seams.
to be in very bad condition:
Tommy's old bicycle was rusty and falling apart.
to break into pieces:
The book fell apart in my hands.
to be unable to deal with your personal or emotional problems:
She had to get some rest or she was going to fall apart.
if someone's world or life falls apart, something very bad and serious happens which changes their life:
When his wife left him, his world fell apart.
fall awayphrasal verb
to slope down:
From where we stood, the ground fell away sharply to the valley floor.
to become separated from something after being fixed to it:
The paint was falling away in patches.
if a feeling falls away, you stop having it, usually suddenly:
The view from the top was wonderful and our tiredness fell away.
4 British English
to decrease [= fall; ≠ rise]:
Demand for our more theoretical courses has fallen away.
fall backphrasal verb
if soldiers fall back, they move back because they are being attacked [= retreat]:
He yelled for his men to fall back.
to move backwards because you are very surprised, frightened etc:
Scott fell back a pace in astonishment.
3 British English
to decrease [= fall; ≠ rise]:
When inflation started to rise, house prices fell back.
fall back into somethingphrasal verb
I was amazed at how easily I fell back into the old routine.
fall back on somebody/somethingphrasal verb
fall behind (somebody/something)phrasal verb
to go more slowly than other people so that they gradually move further ahead of you:
His mother was chatting and didn't notice that he had fallen behind.
She hurt her ankle and had fallen behind the others.
to become less successful than other people, companies, countries etc:
After her time in hospital, Jenny's parents are afraid she has fallen behind educationally.
Companies that are not market-driven risk falling behind the competition.
fall downphrasal verb
if a building is falling down, it is in very bad condition:
The bridge is falling down and will need a million dollars to repair it.
fall for somebody/somethingphrasal verb
to be tricked into believing something that is not true:
He is too smart to fall for that trick.
to start to love someone:
That was the summer I worked at the fairground, and met and fell for Lucy.
to like a place as soon as you see it
fall inphrasal verb
if the roof, ceiling etc falls in, it falls onto the ground [= collapse]
to start walking or forming a line of people behind someone else
fall in behind
His men fell in behind him.
fall into somethingphrasal verb
to move somewhere quickly by relaxing your body and letting it fall on something:
She turned and fell into his arms.
We fell into bed, exhausted.
to start doing something by chance:
I fell into the job really.
fall in with somebody/somethingphrasal verb
to accept someone's ideas, decisions etc and not disagree with them:
Once she explained her problem, he was happy to fall in with her plans.
to become friendly with a person or group of people after meeting them by chance [= get in with]:
She fell in with the wrong crowd in her teens.
fall offphrasal verb
if part of something falls off, it becomes separated from the main part:
The door handle keeps falling off.
A button had fallen off her jacket.
if the amount, rate, or quality of something falls off, it decreases [= fall; ≠ rise]:
Audience figures fell off during the second series of the programme.
used to say that someone was very surprised when something happened:
When I saw my brother on the stage I nearly fell off my chair.
➔ fall off the back of a lorryat lorry
fall on/upon somebody/somethingphrasal verb
if a duty or job falls on someone, they are responsible for doing it:
The responsibility usually falls on the mother.
to eagerly start eating or using something:
She fell on the food as if she hadn't eaten for days.
to suddenly attack or get hold of someone:
Some of the older boys fell on him and broke his glasses.
if your eyes etc fall on something, you notice it:
His eyes fell on her bag. 'Are you going somewhere?'
to experience difficulties and problems in your life such as not having enough money:
The aim is to raise money for workers who have fallen on hard times.
➔ fall on deaf earsat deaf (5)
fall outphrasal verb
to have a quarrel
fall out with
Carrie's always falling out with people.
if a tooth or your hair falls out, it is then no longer attached to your body:
The drugs made her hair fall out.
if soldiers fall out, they stop standing in a line and move away to different places
fall overphrasal verb
to fall onto the ground or to fall from an upright position:
Tommy fell over and cut his knee badly.
Her bike fell over.
to hit your foot against something by mistake and fall to the ground [= trip over]:
She fell over the dog and broke her front teeth.
to be very eager to do something, especially something you do not usually do:
People were falling over themselves to help her.
fall throughphrasal verb
The studio planned to make a movie of the book but the deal fell through.
fall to somebody/somethingphrasal verb
if a duty or job falls to someone, they are responsible for doing it, especially when this is difficult or unpleasant:
It fell to me to give her the bad news.
to start doing something:
They fell to work with a will.
fall to doing something
He fell to thinking about how nice a warm bath would be.