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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.

Origin of befall

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

Synonyms for befall

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for befell


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 for befall

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 befell



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