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befall

[bih-fawl]
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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.
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verb (used with object), be·fell, be·fall·en, be·fall·ing.
  1. to happen to, especially by chance or fate.
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Origin of befall

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

Synonyms

See more synonyms for befall on Thesaurus.com
1. bechance, ensue, betide, materialize, chance.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for befallen

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She was kind-hearted; else never would calamity have befallen her.

  • The afternoon was not very advanced, for all that had befallen him.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Even while he was an infant in the cradle a strange accident had befallen hum.

    Biographical Stories

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Immediately after escaping from this peril, a still greater one had befallen him.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • We cheered, thinking some dire calamity had befallen the enemy.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper


British Dictionary definitions for befallen

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
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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 befallen

befall

v.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper