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to happen or occur.
Archaic. to come, as by right.
to happen to, especially by chance or fate.
Contemporary Examples

If someone were to ask me what disaster this was that had befallen my life, I might ask if they wanted the story or the truth.
If You Read This Book, You Will Not Get Married Melissa Holbrook Pierson August 10, 2012

A similar fate would have befallen those who borrowed against their homes to purchase calls on Apple stock last summer.
Welcome to the Anarchy Economy Daniel Gross April 22, 2013

Historical Examples

A sharp pistol report a moment after told me what had befallen the poor Hungarian; but I had little time to think of his fate.
Maurice Tiernay Soldier of Fortune Charles James Lever

The afternoon was not very advanced, for all that had befallen him.
The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle

His companions sped merrily on, not noticing what had befallen him, and he was left to disentangle himself as best he could.
The Scottish Fairy Book Elizabeth W. Grierson

Immediately after escaping from this peril, a still greater one had befallen him.
Tanglewood Tales Nathaniel Hawthorne

I was afraid some accident might have befallen him, for I was very certain that he would not have deserted me.
Dick Onslow W.H.G. Kingston

We cheered, thinking some dire calamity had befallen the enemy.
Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper

We soon joined him at the Htel des Etrangers, and inquired eagerly regarding the accident which had befallen him.
Reminiscences, 1819-1899 Julia Ward Howe.

“God give that that has not befallen her,” moaned Professor Maxon.
The Monster Men Edgar Rice Burroughs

verb (archaic or literary) -falls, -falling, -fell, -fallen
(intransitive) to take place; come to pass
(transitive) to happen to
(intransitive) usually foll by to. to be due, as by right

Old English befeallan “to deprive of; fall to, be assigned to; befall,” from be- “by, about” + feallan (see fall). Cf. Old Frisian bifalla, Old Saxon, Old High German bifallan, German befallen. Related: Befell; befalling.


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