A pratfall is a mistake that is particularly embarrassing, like going to a job interview with stains on your shirt. It can also be a silly goof done on purpose to make people laugh, like slipping on a banana peel.

A pratfall originally referred to a fall on your butt, which was often done by comic actors for laughs. From there, it came to mean all sorts of unplanned screw-ups. A restaurant caught serving horsemeat has committed a pratfall. A politician’s inappropriate joke is a verbal pratfall. A football player who runs the wrong way and scores for the other team has done a pratfall. Oops!

Definitions of pratfall

n a fall onto your buttocks

Type of:
fall, spill, tumble
a sudden drop from an upright position

n an embarrassing mistake

bloomer, blooper, blunder, boo-boo, botch, bungle, flub, foul-up
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the momentary juggling of a batted or thrown baseball
a blunder that makes you look ridiculous; used in the phrase `make a spectacle of' yourself
a serious and ludicrous blunder
fumble, muff
(sports) dropping the ball
a blunder (especially an actor's forgetting the lines)
faux pas, gaffe, gaucherie, slip, solecism
a socially awkward or tactless act
a glaring blunder
a conspicuous mistake whose effects seem to reverberate
misstep, stumble, trip, trip-up
an unintentional but embarrassing blunder
Type of:
error, fault, mistake
a wrong action attributable to bad judgment or ignorance or inattention

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