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a. A loss of wealth, rank, reputation, or happiness; ruin.
b. A cause of ruin: I tried dieting, but cake was my downfall.
2. A fall of rain or snow, especially a heavy or unexpected one.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. a sudden loss of position, health, or reputation
2. (Physical Geography) a fall of rain, snow, etc, esp a sudden heavy one
3. (Hunting) another word for deadfall
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



1. overthrow; ruin.
2. something causing this.
3. a sudden fall of rain or snow.
down′fall`en, adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



(See also FAILURE.)

come a cropper To fail badly in any undertaking, particularly after its apparent initial success; to encounter a sudden setback after an auspicious beginning. This figurative meaning derives from the literal come a cropper ‘to fall or be thrown headlong from a horse.’ Although the precise origin of the expression is not known, it may be related to the earlier phrase neck and crop meaning ‘bodily, completely, altogether.’ Both literal and figurative uses of the expression date from the second half of the 1800s.

Custer’s last stand An all-out, noble effort that ends in utter, embarrassing failure. In June of 1876, U.S. General George A. Custer’s troops were annihilated by Sioux warriors under Sitting Bull at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Since then, Custer’s last stand has gained currency as a phrase used in comparisons to emphasize those aspects of a given situation which fit the pattern of an all-out effort negated by total defeat, as established by the historical Custer’s last stand.

hoist with one’s own petard See REVERSAL.

meet one’s Waterloo To suffer a crushing and decisive defeat; to succumb to the pressures of a predicament, tragedy, or other unfavorable situation; to meet one’s match; to get one’s comeuppance. This expression alludes to the Battle of Waterloo (1815) in which Napoleon was decisively vanquished by the Duke of Wellington.

Every man meets his Waterloo at last. (Wendell Phillipps, in a speech, November 1, 1859)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.downfall - failure that results in a loss of position or reputationdownfall - failure that results in a loss of position or reputation
failure - an event that does not accomplish its intended purpose; "the surprise party was a complete failure"
finish - the downfall of someone (as of persons on one side of a conflict); "booze will be the finish of him"; "it was a fight to the finish"
2.downfall - the falling to earth of any form of water (rain or snow or hail or sleet or mist)
fine spray - precipitation in very small drops
hail - precipitation of ice pellets when there are strong rising air currents
rain, rainfall - water falling in drops from vapor condensed in the atmosphere
sleet - partially melted snow (or a mixture of rain and snow)
snow, snowfall - precipitation falling from clouds in the form of ice crystals
virga - light wispy precipitation that evaporates before it reaches the ground (especially when the lower air is low in humidity)
atmospheric condition, weather, weather condition, conditions - the atmospheric conditions that comprise the state of the atmosphere in terms of temperature and wind and clouds and precipitation; "they were hoping for good weather"; "every day we have weather conditions and yesterday was no exception"; "the conditions were too rainy for playing in the snow"
3.downfall - a sudden decline in strength or number or importance; "the fall of the House of Hapsburg"
weakening - becoming weaker
anticlimax - a disappointing decline after a previous rise; "the anticlimax of a brilliant career"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun ruin, fall, destruction, collapse, breakdown, disgrace, overthrow, descent, undoing, comeuppance (slang), comedown His lack of experience led to his downfall.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. A sudden drop to a lower condition or status:
2. A disastrous overwhelming defeat or ruin:
3. Something that causes total loss or severe impairment, as of one's health, fortune, honor, or hopes:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
إنْهِيار، سُقوط


[ˈdaʊnfɔːl] N
1. (= collapse) → caída f
2. (= ruin) → perdición f, ruina f
it will be his downfallserá su perdición
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈdaʊnfɔːl] n [person] → chute f, ruine f
to be sb's downfall (= cause of failure) → entraîner la ruine de qn
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


[ˈdaʊnˌfɔːl] nrovina, caduta
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(daun) adverb
1. towards or in a low or lower position, level or state. He climbed down to the bottom of the ladder.
2. on or to the ground. The little boy fell down and cut his knee.
3. from earlier to later times. The recipe has been handed down in our family for years.
4. from a greater to a smaller size, amount etc. Prices have been going down steadily.
5. towards or in a place thought of as being lower, especially southward or away from a centre. We went down from Glasgow to Bristol.
1. in a lower position on. Their house is halfway down the hill.
2. to a lower position on, by, through or along. Water poured down the drain.
3. along. The teacher's gaze travelled slowly down the line of children.
to finish (a drink) very quickly, especially in one gulp. He downed a pint of beer.
ˈdownward adjective
leading, moving etc down. a downward curve.
ˈdownward(s) adverb
towards a lower position or state. The path led downward (s) towards the sea.
down-and-ˈout noun, adjective
(a person) having no money and no means of earning a living. a hostel for down-and-outs.
ˌdown-at-ˈheel adjective
shabby, untidy and not well looked after or well-dressed.
ˈdowncast adjective
(of a person) depressed; in low spirits. a downcast expression.
ˈdownfall noun
a disastrous fall, especially a final failure or ruin. the downfall of our hopes.
ˌdownˈgrade verb
to reduce to a lower level, especially of importance. His job was downgraded.
ˌdownˈhearted adjective
depressed and in low spirits, especially lacking the inclination to carry on with something. Don't be downhearted! – we may yet win.
ˌdownˈhill adverb
1. down a slope. The road goes downhill all the way from our house to yours.
2. towards a worse and worse state. We expected him to die, I suppose, because he's been going steadily downhill for months.
downˈhill racing noun
racing downhill on skis.
downˈhill skiing noun
ˌdown-in-the-ˈmouth adjective
miserable; in low spirits.
down payment
a payment in cash, especially to begin the purchase of something for which further payments will be made over a period of time.
ˈdownpour noun
a very heavy fall of rain.
ˈdownright adverb
plainly; there's no other word for it. I think he was downright rude!
He is a downright nuisance!
ˈdownstairs adjective
, ˌdownˈstairsadverb on or towards a lower floor. He walked downstairs; I left my book downstairs; a downstairs flat.
ˌdownˈstream adverb
further along a river towards the sea. We found/rowed the boat downstream.
ˌdown-to-ˈearth adjective
practical and not concerned with theories, ideals etc. She is a sensible, down-to-earth person.
ˈdowntown adjective
(American) the part (of a city) containing the main centres for business and shopping. downtown Manhattan.
ˌdownˈtown adverb
(also down town) in or towards this area. to go downtown; I was down town yesterday.
ˈdown-trodden adjective
badly treated; treated without respect. a down-trodden wife.
be/go down with
to be or become ill with. The children all went down with measles.
down on one's luck
having bad luck.
down tools
to stop working. When the man was sacked his fellow workers downed tools and walked out.
down with
get rid of. Down with the dictator!
get down to
to begin working seriously at or on. I must get down to some letters!
suit (someone) down to the ground
to suit perfectly. That arrangement will suit me down to the ground.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
Nor, again, should the downfall of the utter villain be exhibited.
The Northwest Company had made a second memorial to that government, representing Astoria as an American establishment, stating the vast scope of its contemplated operations, magnifying the strength of its fortifications, and expressing their fears that, unless crushed in the bud, it would effect the downfall of their trade.
The direct consequence of the battle of Borodino was Napoleon's senseless flight from Moscow, his retreat along the old Smolensk road, the destruction of the invading army of five hundred thousand men, and the downfall of Napoleonic France, on which at Borodino for the first time the hand of an opponent of stronger spirit had been laid.
The standing is slippery, and the regress is either a downfall, or at least an eclipse, which is a melancholy thing.
When arrested for drunkenness she used the story of her daughter's downfall with telling effect upon the police justices.
But the rulers looked upon them as plotting the downfall of all government and religion.