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fall verb (fell, fallen , falling) intrans 1 to descend or drop freely and involuntarily, especially accidentally, by force of gravity. 2 (also fall over or down) said of someone, or something upright: to drop to the ground after losing balance. 3 said of a building, bridge, etc: to collapse. 4 said of rain, snow, etc: to come down from the sky; to precipitate. 5 said eg of hair: to hang down. 6 (usually fall on something) said of a blow, glance, shadow, light, etc: to land The blow fell sharply on his jaw The light of the moon fell on the trees. 7 to go naturally or easily into position fell open at page 69. 8 said of a government, leader, etc: to lose power; to be no longer able to govern. 9 said of a stronghold: to be captured. 10 said of defences or barriers: to be lowered or broken down. 11 to die or be badly wounded in battle, etc. 12 to give in to temptation; to sin. 13 said eg of value, temperature, etc: to become less. 14 said of sound: to diminish. 15 said eg of silence: to intervene. 16 said of darkness or night: to arrive. 17 to pass into a certain state; to begin to be in that state fall asleep fall in love fall unconscious. 18 to be grouped or classified in a certain way falls into two categories. 19 to occur at a certain time or place The accent falls on the first syllable. 20 said of someone's face: to show disappointment. noun 1 an act or way of falling. 2 something, or an amount, that falls. 3 (often falls) a waterfall. 4 a drop in eg quality, quantity, value, temperature, etc A fall in interest rates was announced. 5 a defeat or collapse. 6 (also Fall) N Amer autumn. 7 wrestling a manoeuvre by which one pins one's opponent's shoulders to the ground. break someone's fall to stop them landing with the full impact of a free fall; to cushion their fall. fall between two stools 1 to be neither one thing nor the other. 2 to succeed in neither of two alternatives. fall flat on one's face to come to grief; to fail dismally. fall from grace said of a person: to lose standing. fall foul of someone or something to get into trouble or conflict with them or it. fall head over heels to fall hopelessly (in love). fall on one's feet 1 to come out of a difficult situation advantageously. 2 to gain an unexpectedly good fortune. fall over oneself or fall over backwards colloq to be strenuously or noticeably eager to please or help. fall short or fall short of something 1 to turn out not to be enough; to be insufficient. 2 to fail to attain or reach what is aimed at. See also shortfall. fall to pieces or bits 1 said of something: to break up; to disintegrate. 2 said of someone: to be unable to carry on or function normally, especially because of overwhelming grief, etc fell to pieces when his wife died.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon feallan.
fall about colloq to be helpless with laughter.
fall apart 1 to break in pieces. 2 to fail; to collapse.
fall away 1 said of land: to slope downwards. 2 to become fewer or less. 3 to disappear.
fall back to move back; to retreat.
fall back on something to make use of it in an emergency. See also fall-back.
fall behind or fall behind with something 1 to fail to keep up with someone, with one's work, etc. 2 to be late in paying instalments, rent, etc.
fall down said of an argument, etc: to be shown to be invalid.
fall down on something to fail in a task; to do it unsatisfactorily, especially a particular part of a larger task.
fall for someone to become infatuated with them, or fall in love with them.
fall for something to be deceived or taken in by it; to be conned by it.
fall in 1 said eg of a roof: to collapse. 2 said of a soldier, etc: to take his or her place in a parade.
fall into something to become involved in it, especially by chance or without having put much effort into getting there.
fall in with someone to chance to meet or coincide with them.
fall in with something to agree to it; to support it.
fall off to decline in quality or quantity; to become less.
fall on or upon someone 1 to attack them. 2 to embrace them passionately.
fall out 1 said of soldiers: to come out of military formation. See also fall-out at fall. 2 to happen in the end; to turn out.
fall out with someone to quarrel with them, and then not talk to them or have contact with them for a period of time. See also fall-out at fall.
fall through said of a plan, etc: to fail; to come to nothing.
fall to someone to become their job or duty It falls to me to deal with the matter.
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