1 verb, past tense fell past participle fallen
1 MOVE DOWNWARDS (I) to move downwards from a higher position to a lower position: The rain had started falling again.
(+out of/from/on): Wyatt fell from a second floor window. (+down): I'm always worried that one of the kids will fall down the stairs. | sb's trousers/socks etc are falling down: His shirt was all dirty and his trousers were falling down. | rise and fall: The little boat rose and fell with the movement of the waves.
2 GO DOWN ONTO THE GROUND (I) to suddenly go down onto the ground after you have been standing, walking, or running, especially without intending to: I fell and hit my head. | Careful you don't fall - the path's very icy.
(+ on/into etc): One of the horses slipped and fell into a ditch. | fall flat on your face (=fall so that you are lying facing the ground): She fell flat on her face in the mud. | fall to your knees (=move down from a standing position so that your body is resting on your knees)
3 TO A LOWER AMOUNT ETC (I) to go down to a lower price, amount, level etc, especially a much lower one: In winter the temperature often falls below zero. | fall steeply/sharply (=by a large amount): Interest rates fell sharply. | falling income levels
4 fall asleep/ill/silent/pregnant to become asleep, ill etc: I fell asleep halfway through the film.
5 fall in love to start to love someone or something very much
(+ with): As soon as we met, we fell in love with each other. | Primmie fell in love with California on sight.
6 fall to pieces/bits
a) to break into many pieces: The vase fell to bits as soon as it hit the floor.
b) if something such as a plan or a relationship falls to pieces, it stops working properly
7 be falling to pieces/bits to be in very bad condition, especially because of being very old: The walls were all dirty and the furniture was falling to pieces.
8 fall into/out of to go into or out of a place very quickly because you are in a hurry or very tired: As soon as she got home she fell into bed.
9 fall into decay/disrepair/disrepute etc to become decayed, in bad condition, no longer respected etc: Over the years the old palace had fallen into decay.
10 fall flat if a joke, remark, or performance falls flat, it fails to interest or amuse people
11 fall short of to be less than the amount or standard that is needed or that you want: Unfortunately, the course fell far short of our expectations.
12 fall out of fashion/favour to stop being popular or fashionable
13 fall from grace/favour to stop being liked by people in authority: I don't think she'll get promotion - she's rather fallen from grace recently.
14 fall into the hands of/clutches of if something or someone falls into the hands of an enemy or dangerous person, the enemy etc gets control or possession of them: The documents fell into the hands of the KGB.
15 fall victim/prey to to get a very serious illness or be attacked or deceived by someone: While in Africa she fell victim to a rare blood disorder.
16 fall into the habit of to start doing something, especially something that you should not do: He soon fell into the habit of having a drink on the way home from work.
17 fall into a trap/pitfall to make a mistake that many people make: It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that the threat of nuclear war is over.
18 fall back into your old ways to start doing things or behaving in the way that you used to, especially in a way that other people disapprove of: I expect she'll soon fall back into her old ways.
19 fall into a category/group etc also fall under a heading to be part of a group of things or people that are similar in some way: A lot of my friends fall into the same category.
20 fall into place
a) if parts of a situation that you have been trying to understand fall into place, you start to understand how they are connected with each other: Gradually the clues started falling into place and it became clear who the murderer was.
b) if the parts of something that you want to happen fall into place, they start to happen in the way that you want: We've found someone who'll lend us the money, and it looks as if things are finally falling into place.
21 fall into line to obey someone or do what other people want you to do, especially when you do not want to do it at first: If you can persuade her, the others will soon fall into line.
22 fall into step with
a) to start doing something in the same way as the other members of a group: The other countries on the Security Council are expected to fall into step with the US.
b) to start to walk next to someone else, at the same speed as them
23 fall by the wayside
a) to become unsuccessful after being successful at first: A lot of marriages fall by the wayside because couples cannot talk to each other.
b) to stop being important and therefore be forgotten about: With so many domestic problems, foreign policy issues tended to fall by the wayside.
24 night/darkness/dusk falls literary used to say that the night begins and that it starts to become dark: We arrived at the village just as night was falling.
25 LIGHT/SHADOW (intransitive always + adv/prep) to shine on a surface or go onto a surface: The last rays of sunlight were falling on the fields.
26 fall down on the job informal to not do your work or duties as well as you should: I'd be falling down on my job if I didn't take an interest in the welfare of my staff.
27 it fell off the back of a lorry BrE humorous used to say that something was stolen
28 fall foul of to do something which makes someone angry, or which breaks a rule with the result that you are punished: Edwards fell foul of the authorities and was ordered to leave the country.
29 it's as easy as falling off a log spoken used to say that something is very easy to do
30 fall on deaf ears if someone's words fall on deaf ears, no-one pays any attention to them: His pleas fell on deaf ears.
31 fall on hard times to have problems because you do not have enough money: middle-class families that have fallen on hard times
32 LOSE POWER (I) if a leader or a government falls, they lose their position of power: The previous administration fell after only 6 months in office.
33 BE TAKEN BY AN ENEMY (I) if a place falls in a war or an election, a group of soldiers or a political party takes control of it
(+ to): The city fell to the advancing Russian armies.
34 BE KILLED (I) literary to be killed in a war
35 HIT (intransitive always + adv/prep) to hit a particular place or a particular part of someone's body
(+ on): The first punch fell on his nose.
36 HANG DOWN (intransitive always + adv/prep) to hang down loosely
(+ to/over): Her hair fell to her shoulders.
37 VOICE/SOUND (I) if someone's voice or a sound falls, it becomes quieter or lower
38 fall from sb's lips literary if words fall from someone's lips, they say them
39 silence/sadness/calm etc falls literary used to say that a group of people or a place becomes quiet, sad etc
(+ on/upon): As she entered the ballroom a great silence fell on the assembled guests.
40 SPECIAL EVENT/CELEBRATION fall on to happen on a particular day or date: Christmas falls on a Saturday this year.
41 sb's eyes/gaze/glance fell on used to say that someone saw something when they were looking at something else: He was going through some old papers when his eyes fell on a photo of his mother.
42 the stress/accent/beat falls on used to say that a particular part of a word, phrase, or piece of music is emphasized or is played more loudly than the rest: In the word `report', the stress falls on the second syllable.
43 fall at sb's feet to kneel in front of someone, especially to ask them to do something or to show your respect
44 fall between two stools to be neither one type of thing nor another, or be unable to choose between two ways of doing something: The movie falls between two stools - it's neither a thriller nor a comedy.
45 I almost fell off my chair spoken used to say that you were very surprised when something happened
—see also: fall/land on your feet foot 1 (17), let drop/fall let 1 (17), sb's face fell face 1 (2), stand or fall by/on stand 1 (46) fall about phrasal verb (I) BrE to laugh a lot about something : fall about laughing: The moment she started speaking everyone fell about laughing. fall apart phrasal verb (I)
1 if an organization, system etc falls apart, it stops working effectively and has a lot of problems : be falling apart at the seams: The Health Service is falling apart at the seams.
2 be falling apart to be in very bad condition: I'm not riding in your old car - it's falling apart.
3 if your life, your world etc falls apart, you suddenly have a lot of personal problems: When his wife left him his world just fell apart .
4 to break into pieces: The book fell apart in my hands as soon as I tried to pick it up.
fall away phrasal verb (I)
1 if something such as a feeling, a quality, or a noise falls away, it gradually becomes weaker or quieter and disappears: As confidence fell away consumers kept more of their cash in their pockets.
2 to slope downwards: After that the road falls away to the city of Odawara.
3 to become separated from something after being fixed to it: A piece of wood had fallen away from the foot of the door.
4 to stop being able to be seen as you move through an area: An hour out of London the rows of houses started to fall away and we were surrounded by beautiful countryside.
fall back phrasal verb (I)
1 if soldiers fall back, they move back because they are being attacked: He ordered the men to fall back.
2 to move backwards because you are very surprised, frightened etc: They fell back in horror.
fall back on phrasal verb (I)
1 to use something or depend on someone's help when dealing with a difficult situation, especially after you have tried using other methods or tried to deal with it yourself : have sb/sth to fall back on: Diana always had her father's money to fall back on. | In that case we'll have to fall back on our original plan.
2 to use a particular method, argument etc because it seems simple and easy, not because it is the best one to use: They tend to fall back on the same tired old arguments.
fall behind phrasal verb (I, T)
1 to go more slowly than other people so that they gradually move further ahead of you: The older walkers soon fell behind
2 to become less successful than someone else: The Eisenhower administration allowed the US to fall behind the Soviet Union in the production of nuclear arms.
(+ with): In secondary school she started falling behind with her schoolwork.
3 to fail to finish a piece of work or to pay someone money that you owe them at the right time
(+ with/on): We fell behind with the payments on the car and it was repossessed. | fall behind schedule: Preparations for the festival have fallen behind schedule because of technical difficulties. fall down phrasal verb (I)
1 if someone falls down, they fall onto the ground: Margo fell down and twisted her ankle.
2 if something such as a wall, building, tree etc falls down, it falls onto the ground: The bridge fell down with an enormous crash.
3 be falling down if a building is falling down, it is in very bad condition
4 if an argument, plan, system etc falls down, it fails to work because of a particular weakness: That's where the whole argument falls down.
fall for phrasal verb (T) informal
1 to be tricked into believing something that is not true: She'll never fall for that one! | fall for sth hook, line, and sinker (=to be completely deceived by a trick)
2 to start to love someone: That was the summer I worked at the fairground, and met and fell for Lucy.
fall in phrasal verb (I)
1 if the roof, ceiling etc falls in, it falls onto the ground
2 if a group of soldiers fall in, they form neat lines behind each other so that an officer can check them
fall in behind sb phrasal verb (T) to form a line behind someone fall into sth phrasal verb
1 fall into conversation/a discussion/an argument to start talking or arguing with someone: I fell into conversation with a visiting Japanese professor.
2 to start to have a particular mood, especially suddenly: She's liable to fall into sudden fits of rage.
3 to contain two or more different parts: The agreement falls into two distinct sections.
fall in with phrasal verb (T) to accept someone's suggestions, decisions etc and not disagree with them: I'm quite happy to fall in with whatever you decide. fall off phrasal verb
1 (I, T) if part of something falls off, it becomes separated from the main part: The door handle keeps falling off.
2 (I) if the amount, rate, or quality of something falls off, it becomes less: Rising prices have caused demand for household goods to fall off dramatically.
fall on/upon phrasal verb (I)
1 literary to suddenly attack or get hold of someone: The samurai fell on him and pinned his arms tight.
2 literary to eagerly start eating or using something: The kids fell on the pizzas as if they hadn't eaten for weeks.
3 if a duty or responsibility falls on you, you are given that duty or responsibility: an obligation which may fall upon any citizen
fall out phrasal verb (I)
1 to have a quarrel
(+ with): She's fallen out with her boyfriend.
2 if a group of soldiers who are standing together fall out, they leave and go to different places
3 if something such as a tooth or your hair falls out, it comes out: My dad's hair fell out when he was only 30.
fall over phrasal verb (I)
1 (I, T) if someone falls over or if they fall over something, they fall onto the ground: Mind you don't fall over. | Tommy fell over one of the electric cables.
2 if something falls over, it falls from an upright position onto its side: The fence fell over in the wind.
3 be falling over yourself to do sth to be very eager to do something, especially something you do not usually do: Sylvia was falling over herself to be nice to me.
fall through phrasal verb (I) if an agreement, plan etc falls through, it is not completed successfully: The deal fell through at the last minute. fall to phrasal verb (T)
1 if a duty falls to someone, especially an unpleasant one, it is their responsibility to do it : it fell to sb to do sth: It fell to me to give her the bad news.
2 to start doing something with a lot of effort: They fell to work with a will.
3 fall to doing something especially literary to start doing something: When things really started to go wrong, they fell to arguing among themselves.
4 fall to sb's lot literary to be something that someone has or must deal with
2 noun
1 MOVEMENT DOWNWARDS (countable, singular) movement downwards towards the ground or towards a lower position: the constant fall of the rain | break sb's fall (=prevent someone from falling too quickly and hurting themselves badly): Luckily there were some bushes next to the house and they broke my fall.
2 have a fall to fall onto the ground and hurt yourself: Grandma had a bad fall and broke her hip.
3 REDUCTION (C) a reduction in the amount, level, price etc of something
(+ in): the recent fall in house prices | a fall in coal output
4 AUTUMN (singular) AmE autumn : the fall: We met in the fall of '88.
5 LOSE POWER/BECOME UNSUCCESSFUL (singular) a situation in which someone or something loses their position of power or becomes unsuccessful
(+ from): Until his fall from power in 1978, the Shah remained a firm ally of the Americans. | rise and fall (=period of success and then failure): the rise and fall of the British motorcycle industry
6 fall from grace a situation in which someone stops being respected by other people or loses their position of authority, especially because they have done something wrong: Jackson's spectacular fall from grace
7 DEFEAT (singular) a situation in which a country, city etc is defeated by an enemy: the fall of France in 1940
8 falls (plural) a place where a river suddenly goes straight down over a cliff: Niagara Falls | the falls: We went to see the falls.
9 SPORT (C) an act of forcing your opponent onto the ground in wrestling or judo
10 AMOUNT OF SNOW ETC (C) an amount of snow, rocks etc that has fallen onto the ground: a heavy fall of snow
11 the fall the occasion in the Bible when God punished Adam and Eve by making them leave the Garden of Eden

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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