descent to a lower position or standing; overthrow; ruin.
something causing ruin, failure, etc.: Liquor was his downfall.
a fall, as of rain, snow, or the like, often sudden or heavy.
a trap using a falling weight for killing, injuring, or imprisoning the prey.

Origin of downfall

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at down1, fall
Related formsdown·fall·en, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for downfall

Contemporary Examples of downfall

Historical Examples of downfall

  • 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



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper