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verb (used without object), be·fell, be·fall·en, be·fall·ing.
  1. to happen or occur.
  2. Archaic. to come, as by right.
verb (used with object), be·fell, be·fall·en, be·fall·ing.
  1. to happen to, especially by chance or fate.

Origin of befall

before 900; Middle English befallen, Old English befeallan. See be-, fall (v.)


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1. bechance, ensue, betide, materialize, chance.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for befall


verb -falls, -falling, -fell or -fallen archaic, or literary
  1. (intr) to take place; come to pass
  2. (tr) to happen to
  3. (intr usually foll by to) to be due, as by right

Word Origin

Old English befeallan; related to Old High German bifallan, Dutch bevallen; see be-, fall
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for befall


Old English befeallan "to deprive of; fall to, be assigned to; befall," from be- "by, about" + feallan (see fall). Cf. Old Frisian bifalla, Old Saxon, Old High German bifallan, German befallen. Related: Befell; befalling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper