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downfallen, adj.

Forms:  see down- prefix   and fall v.   (see Forms 3β).(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: down- prefix, fall v.
Etymology: < down- prefix + the past participle of fall v., after to fall down at fall v. Phrasal verbs 1.
The following apparently earlier example is dubious, both because of the difficulty of attributing a plausible meaning, and because the normal past participle of fall in this book is fallen; it may be due to some error:
1565   J. Calfhill Aunswere Treat. Crosse viii. f. 158   As God appeared in forme of fier, and not in an earthly shape: so muste we learne to followe God, to rayse oure thoughtes and desires vpwarde, and not be depressed with downfall cares.

 1. That has fallen from an upright or elevated position; that has collapsed.

1575   J. Turler Traueiler ii. vii. 137   Sundry high Hilles and Mountaynes, at the feete of whiche were continuall rankes of downe fallen Houses, wherby we might easly coniecture that there stoode some great Towne in ould time.
1602   R. Carew Surv. Cornwall ii. f. 120v   Halfe the buildings were raysed on the continent, and the other halfe on an Iland, continued together..by a drawe-bridge, but now divorced by the downfallen steep cliffs on the farther side.
1645   J. Strong Joanereidos sig. E3   They with tumors, tost, Truths standard And Sions downfaln breaches strive to rear.
1706   E. Ward Rambling Fuddle-caps 12   The Mistress..Step'd in to enquire out the truth of the Matter, and view, with sad Eyes, the poor downfallen Batter.
1785   W. Cowper Task vi. 144   His foe's down-fallen beast.
1854   J. T. Trowbridge Martin Merrivale xxxii. 537   By the fences, partly of stone, partly of rails, dilapidated and downfallen, clustered thick growths of sumachs and malignant briers.
1881   Frank Leslie's Illustr. Newspaper 12 Nov. 182/3   His rough hands stroked my downfallen hair as gently as a mother's might.
1914   W. Malone H. de Soto xvi. 349   A multitude of water-lilies thronged..With the dim radiance of down-fallen stars.
1994   D. Duane Spider Man: Venom Factor ii. 64   There were chips and fragments of old paint and downfallen plaster all over the floor.

1575—1994(Hide quotations)


 2. That has lost power, prosperity, status, etc.; diminished or defeated.

1594   R. Carew tr. Tasso Godfrey of Bulloigne iv. 165   Safely foorth with damsels twaine I passe, For my downe fallen fortune mates elect.
a1616   Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 1 (1623) i. iii. 133   The downfall [1598 down-trod] Mortimer.
a1616   Shakespeare Macbeth (1623) iv. iii. 4   Let vs..Bestride our downfall [mod. edd. -fallen] Birthdome.  
1683   W. Winstanley Hist. Rarities 137   Coveting withal to advance the down-faln estate, by marrying with the Emperours Lieutenant.
1817   T. Moore Lalla Rookh 98   Their down-fall'n Chief.
1891   W. Whitman Good-bye my Fancy 17   It is the central urge in every atom, (Often unconscious, often evil, downfallen), To return to its divine source and origin, however distant.
1909   Rec. Amer. Catholic Hist. Soc. Philadelphia 20 2   Orphan asylums, hospitals, and every form of institution for the relief of suffering and downfallen humanity.
1955   J. R. R. Tolkien Return of King v. x. 166   Dwarf-coat, elf-cloak, blade of the downfallen West, and spy from the little rat-land of the Shire.
2009   Orange County (Calif.) Reg. 21 June (Commentary section) 3/4   The downfallen crooks who have recently been indicted needed ‘ethics’ training.

1594—2009(Hide quotations)


 3. Of a person, his or her appearance: expressing or overwhelmed by despondency, sorrow, discouragement, etc.

1613   T. Milles tr. P. Mexia et al. Treasurie Auncient & Moderne Times iv. ii. 305/1   The Romaines, to free themselues from all perils; would commonly kill themselues;..which is the act of men downe-falne in hart.
1853   G. Lippard Midnight Queen xxxv. 96   ‘But,’ he continued as he observed Harry's down-fallen countenance, ‘they'll be back to-morrow.’
1888   Sat. Libr. 17 Nov. 17/1   She sat pale and utterly downfallen at the turn affairs had taken.
1929   Baltimore & Ohio Mag. May 70/1   His downfallen countenance revealed his thoughts.
1991   O. K. Britt in S. Drum & H. E. Whiteley Women in Vet. Med. 36   He looked so downfallen that he surprised me.

1613—1991(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, December 2018).