Origin of fall

before 900; Middle English fallen, Old English feallan; cognate with German fallen, Old Norse falla; akin to Lithuanian pùlti to fall

Related forms

un·fall·ing, adjective

Definition for fall back (2 of 2)


[ fawl-bak ]
/ ˈfɔlˌbæk /


an act or instance of falling back.
something or someone to turn or return to, especially for help or as an alternative: His teaching experience would be a fallback if the business failed.


Also fall-back. of or designating something kept in reserve or as an alternative: The negotiators agreed on a fallback position.

Origin of fallback

1750–60, Americanism; noun, adj. use of verb phrase fall back Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for fall back (1 of 3)

fall back

verb (intr, adverb)

to recede or retreat
(foll by on or upon) to have recourse (to)

noun fall-back

a retreat
a reserve, esp money, that can be called upon in need
  1. anything to which one can have recourse as a second choice
  2. (as modifier)a fall-back position

British Dictionary definitions for fall back (2 of 3)


/ (fɔːl) /


the Fall theol Adam's sin of disobedience and the state of innate sinfulness ensuing from this for himself and all mankindSee also original sin

British Dictionary definitions for fall back (3 of 3)


/ (fɔːl) /

verb falls, falling, fell (fɛl) or fallen (ˈfɔːlən) (mainly intr)


Word Origin for fall

Old English feallan; related to Old Norse falla, Old Saxon, Old High German fallan to fall; see fell ²
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

Idioms and Phrases with fall back (1 of 2)

fall back


Give ground, retreat, as in The troops fell back before the relentless enemy assault, or He stuck to his argument, refusing to fall back. [c. 1600]


Recede, as in The waves fell back from the shore. [c. 1800]

Idioms and Phrases with fall back (2 of 2)


In addition to the idioms beginning with fall

  • fall all over oneself
  • fall apart
  • fall asleep
  • fall away
  • fall back
  • fall back on
  • fall behind
  • fall between the cracks
  • fall by the wayside
  • fall down
  • fall flat
  • fall for
  • fall from grace
  • fall guy
  • fall in
  • falling down drunk
  • fall in line
  • fall in love
  • fall in place
  • fall into
  • fall in with
  • fall off
  • fall off the wagon
  • fall on
  • fall on deaf ears
  • fall on one's face
  • fall on one's feet
  • fall out
  • fall over
  • fall short of
  • fall through
  • fall through the cracks
  • fall to
  • fall under

also see:

  • bottom drops (falls) out
  • break one's fall
  • easy as pie (falling off a log)
  • let drop (fall)
  • let the chips fall where they may
  • ride for a fall
  • take the fall
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.