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[bih-fawl] /bɪˈfɔl/
verb (used without object), befell, befallen, befalling.
to happen or occur.
Archaic. to come, as by right.
verb (used with object), befell, befallen, befalling.
to happen to, especially by chance or fate.
Origin of befall
before 900; Middle English befallen, Old English befeallan. See be-, fall (v.)
1. bechance, ensue, betide, materialize, chance. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for befall
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Historical Examples
  • Oh, if any harm should befall her beautiful, darling Flossy!

    The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • As it grew late, I began to fancy all manner of accidents that might befall you.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • Down climbed Eut-le-ten nothing affrighted, but filled with the knowledge no harm could befall him.

  • At that time Mithridates is said to have had a dream prefigurative of what was to befall him.

  • But an even worse disaster than this was to befall the great twelve-thousand-ton cruiser.

    The World Peril of 1910 George Griffith
British Dictionary definitions for befall


verb (archaic or literary) -falls, -falling, -fell, -fallen
(intransitive) to take place; come to pass
(transitive) to happen to
(intransitive) 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
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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
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