SKIP TO CONTENT

befall

Befall is an old-fashioned or literary way of saying something happened by chance. Bad luck befalls a heroine who drops her lucky rabbit foot.

When something befalls you, it’s like bad luck falling on you. An earthquake can befall a city. A terrible disease could befall a child. A bolt of lightning could befall a very unlucky person. When something befalls you, you’re in trouble. Tragedies befall families in many of Shakespeare’s plays — that’s what makes them so much fun.

Definitions of befall
  1. verb
    become of; happen to
    “He promised that no harm would befall her”
    synonyms: bechance, betide
  2. verb
    happen, occur, or be the case in the course of events or by chance
    “"These things befell" (Santayana)”
    synonyms: bechance, happen
    happen
    chance to be or do something, without intention or causation
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week