Language: Old English
Origin: feallan


1 verb
fall1 S1 W1 past tense fell past participle fallen

move downwards

[intransitive] 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.
fall down
Rob fell down the stairs.
She flushed and her eyes fell (=she looked down).

stop standing/walking etc

[intransitive] to suddenly go down onto the ground after you have been standing, walking, or running, especially without intending to:
I fell and hit my head.
slip/stumble/trip etc and fall
He slipped and fell on the ice.
fall down
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 face

at flat3 (5)


[intransitive] 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.
fall from
Advertising revenue fell from $98.5 million to $93.3 million.
fall to
The number of subscribers had fallen to 1000.
fall sharply/steeply (=by a large amount)
London share prices fell sharply yesterday.


[intransitive, linking verb] to start to be in a new or different state
fall adj
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.
fall into
The house was empty for many years and fell into disrepair.
One false step can mean falling into debt.
He fell into despair.

belong to a group

[intransitive always + preposition] to belong to or be part of a particular group, area of responsibility, range of things, or type of things
fall into
Many illnesses fall into the category of stress-related illnesses.
Leaders fall into two categories.
fall within
The judge said that this matter did not fall within the scope of the auditor's duties.
fall under
The job falls under the heading of 'sales and marketing'.
Meat production falls under the control of the Agriculture Department.

fall short of something

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.

fall victim/prey to something/somebody

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

night/darkness/dusk falls

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.

silence/a hush/sadness etc falls

literary used to say that a person, group, or place becomes quiet, sad etc:
A long silence fell between us.

start doing something

[intransitive] to start doing something or being involved with something, often without intending to:
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.

fall into place

a) 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.
b) 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.

fall to pieces/bits

a) to break into many pieces [= fall apart]:
The book had been well used and finally fell to pieces.
b) if something such as a plan or a relationship falls to pieces, it stops working properly [= fall apart]:
The family is falling to pieces.

be falling to pieces/bits

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.

fall flat

if a joke, remark, or performance falls flat, it fails to interest or amuse people:
Marlow's attempts at jokes fell flat.

fall foul of somebody/something

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.

fall by the wayside

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.

fall from grace/favour

to stop being liked by people in authority:
He fell from grace for the first time when he was convicted of drink-driving.

fall from a great height

to be forced to leave an important job or position, or lose the respect that people had for you

fall into the hands/clutches of somebody

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.

fall into a trap/pitfall

to make a mistake that many people make:
Don't fall into the trap of feeling guilty.

fall into step

a) 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.
b) 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.

fall into line

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.

hang down

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to hang down loosely
fall over
His dark hair fell over his face.


[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to shine on a surface or go onto a surface:
The last rays of sunlight were falling on the fields.
Arthur's shadow fell across the doorway.

special event/celebration

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to happen on a particular day or at a particular time:
I'd like to dedicate this record to all whose anniversaries fall at this time of year.
fall on
Her birthday will fall on a Friday this year.

lose power

[intransitive]PG if a leader or a government falls, they lose their position of power:
The previous government fell after only 6 months in office.

be taken by an enemy

[intransitive]PMPPV if a place falls in a war or an election, a group of soldiers or a political party takes control of it
fall to
The city fell to the advancing Russian armies.

be killed

[intransitive] to be killed in a war [= die]


[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to hit a particular place or a particular part of someone's body
fall on
The first punch fell on his nose.

it's as easy as falling off a log

spoken used to say that something is very easy to do


[intransitive] if someone's voice or a sound falls, it becomes quieter or lower [≠ rise]

fall between two stools

British English to be neither one type of thing nor another, or be unable to choose between two ways of doing something

fall on stony ground

British English if a request, suggestion, joke etc falls on stony ground, it is ignored or people do not like it

fall from somebody's lips

literary if words fall from someone's lips, they say them

the stress/accent/beat falls on something

SLAPM 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 spell

at spell2 (3)

; ➔ fall on your feet

at foot1 (19)

; ➔ somebody's face fell

at face1 (2)

; ➔ stand or fall by/on

at stand1 (33)

fall about

phrasal verb
to laugh a lot about something:
It was so funny everyone just fell about laughing.

fall apart

phrasal verb
1 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.

be falling apart

to be in very bad condition:
Tommy's old bicycle was rusty and falling apart.
3 to break into pieces:
The book fell apart in my hands.
4 to be unable to deal with your personal or emotional problems:
She had to get some rest or she was going to fall apart.

somebody's world/life falls 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 away

phrasal verb
1 to slope down:
From where we stood, the ground fell away sharply to the valley floor.
2 to become separated from something after being fixed to it:
The paint was falling away in patches.
3 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 back

phrasal verb
1PM if soldiers fall back, they move back because they are being attacked [= retreat]:
He yelled for his men to fall back.
2 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 something

phrasal verb
to go back to doing something or behaving in a way which you did before:
I was amazed at how easily I fell back into the old routine.

fall back on somebody/something

phrasal verb
to use something or depend on someone's help when dealing with a difficult situation, especially after other methods have failed
have somebody/something to fall back on
She has no relatives to fall back on.
Where negotiation fails, they must fall back on the law.

fall behind (somebody/something)

phrasal verb
1 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.
2 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.
3 to fail to finish a piece of work or pay someone money that you owe them at the right time
fall behind (somebody/something) with/on
After losing his job, he fell behind with his mortgage payments.
The project has fallen behind schedule.

fall down

phrasal verb

be falling down

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.
2 to fail because of a particular reason or in a particular way:
That's where the whole argument falls down.
fall down on
He is falling down on the supervisory aspects of his job.
The local authority is falling down on the job of keeping the streets clean.

fall for somebody/something

phrasal verb
1 to be tricked into believing something that is not true:
He is too smart to fall for that trick.
2 to start to love someone:
That was the summer I worked at the fairground, and met and fell for Lucy.
3 to like a place as soon as you see it

fall in

phrasal verb
1 if the roof, ceiling etc falls in, it falls onto the ground [= collapse]
2PM to start walking or forming a line of people behind someone else
fall in behind
His men fell in behind him.

fall into something

phrasal verb
1 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.
2 to start doing something by chance:
I fell into the job really.

fall in with somebody/something

phrasal verb
1 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.
2 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 off

phrasal verb

fall off (something)

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.
2 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.

somebody nearly/almost fell off their chair

spoken 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 lorry

at lorry

fall on/upon somebody/something

phrasal verb
1 if a duty or job falls on someone, they are responsible for doing it:
The responsibility usually falls on the mother.
2 literary to eagerly start eating or using something:
She fell on the food as if she hadn't eaten for days.
3 literary to suddenly attack or get hold of someone:
Some of the older boys fell on him and broke his glasses.

somebody's eyes/gaze/glance fall(s) on something

if your eyes etc fall on something, you notice it:
His eyes fell on her bag. 'Are you going somewhere?'

fall on hard/bad times

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 ears

at deaf (5)

fall out

phrasal verb
1 to have a quarrel
fall out with
Carrie's always falling out with people.
2 if a tooth or your hair falls out, it is then no longer attached to your body:
The drugs made her hair fall out.
3PM if soldiers fall out, they stop standing in a line and move away to different places

fall over

phrasal verb
1 to fall onto the ground or to fall from an upright position:
Tommy fell over and cut his knee badly.
Her bike fell over.

fall over something

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.

fall over yourself to do something

to be very eager to do something, especially something you do not usually do:
People were falling over themselves to help her.

fall through

phrasal verb
if an agreement, plan, sale etc falls through, it is not completed successfully:
The studio planned to make a movie of the book but the deal fell through.

fall to somebody/something

phrasal verb
1 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.
2 written 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.

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