• synonyms


See more synonyms for downfall on Thesaurus.com
  1. descent to a lower position or standing; overthrow; ruin.
  2. something causing ruin, failure, etc.: Liquor was his downfall.
  3. a fall, as of rain, snow, or the like, often sudden or heavy.
  4. a trap using a falling weight for killing, injuring, or imprisoning the prey.
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Origin of downfall

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at down1, fall
Related formsdown·fall·en, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for downfall

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The touch, the choke in her voice, brought about Viviette's downfall.


    William J. Locke

  • It is probable that Handel himself had contributed to the downfall of the Academy.


    Edward J. Dent

  • This old bell rung the downfall of Buonaparte and broke, April 1814.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • America will be lost to Britain forever, and will prove her downfall.

  • The vast host of rationalists are busy proclaiming 184 the downfall of religion.

    Mountain Meditations

    L. Lind-af-Hageby

British Dictionary definitions for downfall


  1. a sudden loss of position, health, or reputation
  2. a fall of rain, snow, etc, esp a sudden heavy one
  3. another word for deadfall
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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 downfall


"ruin, fall from high condition," c.1300, from down (adv.) + fall (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper