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downfall, v.

Inflections:   Past tense downfell; past participle downfallen;
Forms:  see down- prefix   and fall v.(Show Less)
Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: down- prefix, fall v.

  intransitive. To fall in a downward direction; to fall down. Also fig.

c1350   in Anglia (1906) 29 404   Þai be-soght him dounfalland..to him bede þai þore, Golde, Recles, Mirre wel more.
a1400   Psalter (Vesp.) xvii. 10 in C. Horstmann Yorkshire Writers (1896) II. 148   Koles þat ware dounfalland Kindled ere ofe him glouand.
1447   O. Bokenham Lives of Saints (1938) l. 3438 (MED)   He hir smote euyn þrogh þe body, Wherwyth to erth it dide dounfal.
1532   T. More Confut. Tyndales Answere i. p. lxxiii   He must nedys confesse that Crystes chyrche is the chyrche that we be of, and out of whyche hym selfe is downe fallen by vnfaythfulnes in to ye depe dongeon of the deuyll.
1605   R. Dallington Suruey Great Dukes State Tuscany 24   A line perpendicularly downe-falling to the ground.
c1738   Inscription on Robert Alexander's Grave in A. Jervise Epit. & Inscriptions N.-E. Scotl. (1875) I. 34/1   An old clay chimney that downfell Kill'd both his servant and himsell.
1868   J. A. B. Meta of Gaindara iv. iv. 83   And as the forest kings downfell Both near and distant wooded dell Re-echoed with scarce softer sound Than when..The cannon pours its murderous fire.
1896   G. Barlow Jesus of Nazareth iv. viii. 144   Antonia's tower with thunderous crash downfell.
1901   G. H. Clarke Wayfarings 68   We rush and we leap, and we overturn Downfalling, downfalling.
1932   W. Faulkner Light in August xi. 219   By the light of the candle she did not look much more than thirty, in the soft light downfalling upon the softungirdled presence of a woman prepared for sleep.
1983   D. Ackerman Lady Faustus i. 14   Hair streamed like Medusa's Above me as I downfell To gardens of hula-ing sea plumes.

c1350—1983(Hide quotations)


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