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befall definition


This page has 7 definitions of befall in English, German, and Swedish. Befall is a verb and noun. Examples of how to use befall in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: Befall

English befall definition


From Middle English bifallen, from Old English befeallan, from Proto-Germanic *bifallaną; equivalent to be- +‎ fall.



befall (third-person singular simple present befalls, present participle befalling, simple past befell, past participle befallen)

  1. (transitive) To fall upon; fall all over; overtake
    At dusk an unusual calm befalls the wetlands.
  2. (intransitive) To happen.
  3. (transitive) To happen to.
    Temptation befell me.
    • 1886-88, Richard F. Burton, The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night:
      But as soon as her son espied her, bowl in hand, he thought that haply something untoward had befallen her, but he would not ask of aught until such time as she had set down the bowl, when she acquainted him with that which had occurred []
    • c. 1595–1596, William Shakespeare, “A Midsommer Nights Dreame”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene i]:
      I beseech your grace that I may know / The worst that may befall me.
    • 2013 April 15, Walter Russell Mead, “The Wreck of the Euro”, in The American Interest[1], retrieved 2013-04-16:
      As we’ve said before, with the exception of communism itself, the euro has been the biggest economic catastrophe to befall the continent (and the world) since the 1930s.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To fall.
    • c. 1620, anonymous, “Tom o’ Bedlam’s Song” in Giles Earle his Booke (British Museum, Additional MSS. 24, 665):
      With a thought I tooke for Maudline
      & a cruse of cockle pottage.
      with a thing thus tall, skie blesse you all:
      I befell into this dotage.


Derived terms



befall (plural befalls)

  1. Case; instance; circumstance; event; incident; accident.
    • 1495, William Caxton, Vitas Patrum:
      Or he had tolde al his befall.
    • 1990, India. Parliament. House of the People, India. Parliament. Lok Sabha, Lok Sabha debates:
      This is proposed to be done by moving necessary amendment in this befall to the Finance Bill.
    • 1994, Socialist Party (India), Janata: Volume 49:
      He said "I would advise people to cultivate frugal habits. I will not commit the crime of making them helpless by saying that they have no responsibility whatever in the befall of calamities like old age, illness, accident, etc. [...]"
    • 1996, Thomas Pfau, Rhonda Ray Kercsmar, Rhetorical and cultural dissolution in romanticism:
      [...], the word "care" asserting itself subliminally in somewhat the same way that "fall" does in the "befall" of "Infant Joy."



German befall definition


  • IPA(key): /bəˈfal/
  • Hyphenation: be‧fall
  • Rhymes: -al



  1. singular imperative of befallen

Swedish befall definition



  1. imperative of befalla.