Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To come to pass; happen.
  • transitive v. To happen to. See Synonyms at happen.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To happen.
  • v. To happen to.
  • n. Case; instance; circumstance; event; incident; accident.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To happen to.
  • intransitive v. To come to pass; to happen.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fall or happen to; occur to.
  • To happen; come to pass.
  • To fall in the way; come to hand.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. happen, occur, or be the case in the course of events or by chance
  • v. become of; happen to

Etymologies

Middle English bifallen, from Old English befeallan, to fall.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English befallen, from Old English befeallan ("to fall, deprive of, bereave of, fall to, be assigned to, befall"), equivalent to be- +‎ fall. Cognate with Dutch bevallen ("to please"), German befallen ("to befall, attack, overcome"), Swedish befalla ("to command, prescribe, direct"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Wherefore, such opinions and persuasions are gradually insinuated into the mind, and are admitted insensibly without opposition or reluctancy, being never accompanied at their first admission with any secular disadvantage; -- but these divine convictions by the word befall men, some when they think of nothing less and desire nothing less; some when they design other things, as the pleasing of their ears or the entertainment of their company; and some that go on purpose to deride and scoff at what should be spoken unto them from it.

    Pneumatologia

  • For although no calamity, such as man is subject to, befall, which is for the most part impossible, even thus, better is he that seeks not wealth, but knows how to bear all things easily than he that is always rich.

    NPNF1-12. Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians

  • VIEW FAVORITES yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = 'A Tug On The Noose Around the Whitehouse\'s Neck '; yahooBuzzArticleSummary =' New developments in the Plame case are promising -- for those who would like to see justice "befall" the Whitehouse thugs. '

    OpEdNews - Quicklink: A Tug On The Noose Around the Whitehouse's Neck

  • New developments in the Plame case are promising -- for those who would like to see justice 'befall' the Whitehouse thugs.

    OpEdNews - Quicklink: A Tug On The Noose Around the Whitehouse's Neck

  • But it was all of the same character, broad farce; accounts of mishaps such as befall in children's pantomimes, -- which their seniors enjoy, too, -- practical jokes equally ludicrous, and resulting situations to match.

    From Sail to Steam, Recollections of Naval Life

  • Great events, such as befall only a few, are thus excluded, and in the hope of helping to present a clue, by example, to the perplexities of daily life, the incidents, which render a story exciting, have been sacrificed, and the attempt has been to make the interest of the books depend on character painting.

    The Two Guardians or, Home in This World

  • I say, it is the widest of all, for all others put no great difference between men as men, they do reach the peculiar excellency of a man, that is, the true, and proper, good of his spiritual and immortal part, they are such as befall alike to good and bad, and so cannot have either much good or much evil in them.

    The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

  • And no hurt shall befall me, because the shark with the shortest tail is my friend and will protect me. '

    THE WATER BABY

  • See that this man go free, and that no harm befall him.

    THE GOD OF HIS FATHERS

  • Even now he cometh with witcheries and sorceries; so beware thy tongue, lest evil befall thee and thy days be short in the land!

    THE MASTER OF MYSTERY

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