Middle English Dictionary Entry

fallen v.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. afallen, fellen.
Note: Confusion between fallen and fellen is common in N and WM, where the present stems of these verbs coalesced in OE times.
To descend, drop, fall; fig. to sin, suffer misfortune.
(a) Of any object: to move more or less freely downward through space (from a higher to a lower position); to descend, drop, fall; of Lucifer and his followers: to fall (from heaven into hell); fallen (a)doun, ~ out; (b) fallen a fall, to suffer (a fall).
Of the weather or of darkness: to come down, descend, fall.
Of Christ: to descend from heaven to earth.
Of persons: to descend (from a state of moral rectitude or spiritual grace into sin); to fall morally or spiritually, to fall (from grace), to sin; also, to fall (into false belief or error).
To descend (from prosperity or high estate into poverty or misfortune); to lose riches, influence, power, or the like; to suffer misfortune.
Astron. Of a heavenly body: to move, or appear to move, toward the horizon; to decline or set.
To sink to a lower level or to lower intensity.
To sink or settle to the bottom of a liquid.
Of a river: to flow (into another river or the sea); to debouch.
(a) Of the sea: to fall to a lower level, subside; (b) of wind: to abate, subside.
Of land: to extend (to a certain place).
Of the eyes, a glance: to be lowered, to drop.
Mus. To sound a lower note or notes.
(a) Of bodily members: to sag; (b) of the pulse: to grow feebler; (c) of the spirits: to sink, decline; (d) of the countenance: to lose animation or composure, be downcast; fallen doun(ward; (e) of one's complexion: to lose freshness, fade.
To move downward from an erect or upright position; to be brought, or to bring, low; fallen (a)doun.
Of persons, animals: to move more or less suddenly downward from a standing or sitting position; to fall over, collapse, sag.
fallen i)swoue(n, ~ in or on swoue(n, ~ in or on swouning, to fall to the ground in a faint or swoon; to faint or swoon.
(a) Of plants, trees: to lose the upright position; fall over; droop, wither; (b) to cut down, fell (a tree).
To prostrate oneself or kneel before a person in reverence, adoration, prayer, or supplication; also, of a heavenly body: to fall down before a person to show him honor; fallen gruf, to prostrate oneself; ~ akne(s or on kne(s; ~ to, at, or befor fot (fet); ~ to or under (a person); -- (a) simply; (b) with pers. obj.
To drop down to earth, wounded or dead; to be slain or die; fallen ded, ~ to deth, ~ to mold; the fallen to deth, the dead.
To strike down or fell (an enemy).
(a) Of buildings, statues, cliffs, etc.: to topple or crumble to the ground, collapse; to come down in ruin; fallen atwo; (b) fallen to poudre, crumble; ~ on peces, go to pieces; (c) to cause (something) to come down in ruin.
(a) Of institutions, governments, things of the world, etc.: to decline in power, authority, or use; to be brought low, to come to decay or ruin; to vanish, pass away; fallen to nought; (b) of an office: to fall vacant.
(a) Of emotions: to decline, abate, vanish; to be cast down, suppressed, or extinguished; (b) to cast down (pride); to quell (strife).
To become detached, separated, lost; to get away from by abandoning; to be born; to happen as a result, to result.
Of physical parts: to become detached (from a parent body) and drop off, etc.; fallen out, ~ aboute, ~ awei.
Of possessions, qualities: to become separated (from a person); to get lost, vanish, disappear; fallen awei.
Of persons, etc.: (a) fallen from or out of (any state or condition), to get away from, depart from, abandon; (b) fallen (awei) from (an action, a matter), to leave off; (c) fallen from (persons, fellowship), to depart from, abandon, forsake; (d) fallen out, to have a disagreement.
Of offspring: to be dropped (from the mother, the womb); to spring or descend (from a parent); to be born.
(a) Of conditions, actions, events: to come into being as the consequence or as the product (of something); to issue or arise; to happen as a result; -- usually with of phrase; (b) to result (in something); -- with to or in phrase.
(a) To change or turn (into something worse); also, to change; (b) to shift one's attention.
To come by falling, or as if by falling, into a situation, condition, relationship; to become engaged, commence, start.
Of persons, animals: (a) to come by falling (into a pit, trap, etc.); (b) to come (into any unfavorable condition); fallen in (a person's) hondes; (c) fallen in or into (a sickness, disease), to be afflicted with, come down with; fallen in bed, to take sick; (d) fallen in or to age, to grow old; (e) fallen aslepe (o, on, upon, or to slepe; in or on slepinge, etc.), to fall asleep.
(a) To come (into any personal relationship); (b) fallen among or in (persons), to come into association with, fall in with; (c) fallen to (a person), ~ to (a person's) honde, to join forces with, side with, consort with; (d) fallen abord with (a person), ~ unto (a person), ~ to (a person's) desire, ~ of (a person's) accord, to come into agreement with; (e) fallen at on, to agree.
Of persons or things: to come (into any condition).
Of a subject for thought: to come (into one's mind, heart, thought, etc.); to occur (in thought to a person).
To become engaged (in an activity or action); to enter (upon an action); to start (to do something); -- (a) with in, into, on, upon phrase; (b) with inf.; (c) with pr. ppl.
To turn or direct attention (to an object or pursuit); ?also, to engage in pursuit (of an animal); -- with to, at, of phrase.
To be drawn (into strife, etc.); -- with in, at phrase.
fallen in honde with (an action, a matter), to become engaged in, take in hand; ~ on honde with (a person), to enter into negotiation with; ~ in hondes, to come to blows.
To come to rest, or alight, by falling or as if by falling; to have a particular place of arrival or location; to be allotted.
(a) Of physical things: to descend and come to rest, to light (upon a place or object); (b) of a blow: to alight; (c) of a clock: to strike the hour; (d) of birds: to alight; (e) of a person: to bring oneself, or come down (upon the point of a sword or knife); (f) of a rider: fallen unto fot, to dismount.
Of items fitting into a figure or scheme: to come to be located.
(a) Of the will: fallen upon (an act), to be directed toward; (b) of a branch of knowledge: fallen upon (something), to be concerned with.
Of conditions, immaterial influences, emotions, etc.: to descend or light (upon a person or place); -- (a) with on, up, upon, in phrase; (b) absol.
Of a lot or other device which determines choice: to light (upon a person or thing); to come by chance (to a person); also, fallen (up)on (a person's) chaunce; -- with (up)on or to phrase, with pers. obj., or absol.
Of fortune, conditions, actions, etc. as affecting a person, etc.: to come by luck or chance (to a person), come to the lot (of a person, a place), to affect (a person, a member); to happen (to a person), befall (a person); to come (to a person's lot); -- (a) with to, unto, for, bi, with, of phrase; (b) with pers. obj.; (c) impers., often faire falles (to) him (etc.); (d) fallen on (a person's) chaunce, ~ to (a person's) lot.
what (hou) falles of (a person), what becomes of, happens to, or befalls (a person).
Of a person: to acquire (something) by lot or fortune.
Of property, wealth, honor, etc.: to be allotted, to pass or come as a possession or inheritance (to a person); -- (a) with to, unto phrase; (b) fallen to (in, in-to, unto) (a person's) honde(s; (c) with pers. obj.
To belong, pertain, be appropriate.
To belong or pertain as a possession, domain, or legal right; -- with to phrase or pers. obj.
(a) Of things: to belong or pertain (to something else) by nature, relation, classification, accordance, suitability, etc.; (b) fallen into on, to belong together; (c) to belong or come in classification (under a certain head or account).
To be appropriate, fitting, suitable, customary, convenient, or needful (to or for a person, his nature or rank, actions, occupation, or the like); to become, befit, or suit (a person, the law); also, to be of concern (to a person); to behoove (a person to do something); -- often impers., with or without it; (a) with to or for phrase; (b) with obj.
(a) To be proper, suitable, or necessary under the circumstances; -- often impers.; (b) to be concerned.
To come to pass, happen; to come to be, become.
Of fortune, circumstances, events, conditions, actions: to come to pass, take place, turn up, happen, occur; fallen to, ~ to ben; -- (a) with simple subj.; (b) impers., with or without it.
Of a unit of time: to come to pass; of a special day or other time unit: to come or occur (at a specified time); when it falles time, when it is the appropriate time.
To happen or chance to be (what is specified by a compl.); -- (a) simply; (b) fallen to ben.
To come in the course of events to be (what is specified by a compl. or phr.); to turn out to be, get to be, become; -- (a) simply; (b) fallen to ben.
To get by motion; to rush; to attack; to have a tendency or desire.
(a) To come or get by motion other than downward (into a position); to move; also, to move precipitously, hasten, rush; (b) fallen out, to leave, depart; (c) naut. fallen upon or with (land), to come upon in due course, meet with (land); (d) of the eyes: fallen togeder, to close.
To rush (toward an enemy) with hostile intent; to make an attack (upon an enemy, prey, defended structure); also, of a plant disease: to make an attack (upon a plant); -- (a) with (up)on, til, to phrase; (b) fallen in, ~ on.
(a) To have a tendency or inclination (toward a condition, to God); to tend, incline; (b) fallen in the wai of, approach (a condition).
Of the heart: to be inclined, to become desirous.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • c1500(?a1437) ?Jas.I KQ (SeldArch B.24)st.2 : As I lay in bed allone waking..Fell me to mynd of many divers thing.
  • Note: Impers. [It] fell to me [= me dat.] to mind [i.e. to my mind] concerning (sth) [of prep.]--per MJW
    Note: Sense 27. has exx. with a dat., exx. with preps. in, in-to, & on (but not to), & exx. impers., but not all 3 together & no ex. with of phr.--per MJW
  • a1325(c1250) Gen.& Ex.(Corp-C 444)915 : Oc al ðat euere fel him to, Sac-les he let hin welden it so
  • Note: Antedates 35.(a)--per MJW
  • a1425(a1400) PConsc.(Glb E.9 & Hrl 4196)7765 : Þis heven falles noght obout to ga, Ne moves noght als dose þe other twa.
  • ?a1425 *Chauliac(3) (Htrn 95)72a/b : Þe anothomye off þe thie..is, as it were, fallinge wiþ þe anothomie off þe adiutorium.
  • Note: ?New gloss.