fell(redirected from fells)
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fall (squarely) on (someone's) shoulders
To be or become the sole responsibility of someone. I never intended for the company's well-being to fall on your shoulders, but you're the only one who can take over for me while I'm ill. With my father gone, putting food on the table for the family now falls squarely on my shoulders.
fall asleep at the wheel
To fail to attend to one's responsibilities or duties; to be inattentive to that which is important or for which one is responsible. Johnson was supposed to make sure the paperwork went through before the deadline, but it looks like he fell asleep at the wheel. Our goalkeeper is such a nincompoop. We would have won that match if he hadn't fallen asleep at the wheel!
fall asleep at the switch
To fail to attend to one's responsibilities or duties; to be inattentive to that which is important or for which one is responsible. Johnson was supposed to make sure the paperwork went through before the deadline, but it looks like he fell asleep at the switch. Our goalkeeper is such a nincompoop. We would have won that match if he hadn't fallen asleep at the switch!
fall under the spell of (someone)
To come under the influence or control of someone because one finds him or her fascinating, enchanting, or seductive. Our son has never acted out like this before. I think he must have fallen under the spell of that new friend of his. Such was the magnitude of her beauty that countless men have fallen under the spell of the duchess.
escape the bear and fall to the lion
To avoid a frightening or problematic situation, only to end up in a worse one later. A: "After I swerved to avoid hitting a pedestrian, I wound up in oncoming traffic, and my car was totalled." B: "That's awful. You escaped the bear and fell to the lion."
To become disliked or to come in conflict with due to one's actions, often resulting in further trouble or conflict. Used in the phrase "fall (a)foul of (someone or something)." Since you're new here, be careful not to fall afoul of Bill—he'll keep you off of every case if he's mad at you. I fell foul of the committee, and now, I'm not sure how to improve my reputation.
See also: fall
fall into (one's) lap
To be received unexpectedly or without effort. I didn't steal the internship from you—it fell into my lap, I swear! Your aunt has decided to get a new car, so her old one might fall into your lap.
fall over backward
To expend a lot of energy or effort to do something; to inconvenience oneself. I can't believe how ungrateful you're being, especially since we fell over backward planning this dinner party for you! Please don't fall over backward preparing for my visit—I'm totally prepared to sleep on your floor!
To fall prey to something. I fell victim to peer pressure, and I started drinking at the party. Please be careful not to fall victim to senioritis—you can't stop doing your work this close to graduation.
hush fell over
A sudden silence occurred (among those present) in an otherwise noisy setting. A hush fell over the audience as the famous pianist took the stage.
the wheels fell off
slang An unexpected problem arose, with (real or hyperbolically) disastrous effects. The job interview was going well, but the wheels fell off once I started rambling about my personal life. My plan was to have dinner ready by the time you got home, but the wheels fell off when the washer flooded.
at one fell swoopand in one fell swoop
Fig. in a single incident; as a single event. (This phrase preserves the old word fell, meaning "terrible" or "deadly.") The party guests ate up all the snacks at one fell swoop. When the stock market crashed, many large fortunes were wiped out in one fell swoop.
bottom fell out (of something)
Fig. a much lower limit or level of something was reached. The bottom fell out of the market and I lost a lot of money.
a hush fell over someone or something
Fig. a sudden silence enveloped something or a group. As the conductor raised his arms, a hush fell over the audience. The coach shouted and a hush fell over the locker room.
just fell off the turnip truck
Rur. ignorant; unsophisticated. He stood there gawking at the buildings in town like he just fell off the turnip truck. My cousin acts like she just fell off the turnip truck.
Little strokes fell great oaks.
Prov. You can complete a large, intimidating task by steadily doing small parts of it. Jill: How can I possibly write a fifty-page report in two months? Jane: Just write a little bit every day. Little strokes fell great oaks.
the bottom fell out (of something)
something suddenly lost value When the bottom fell out of the real estate market, a lot of people lost a lot of money.
Usage notes: usually used in the past tense
in one fell swoop
all at the same time I prefer to see someone in charge so we can deal with everything in one fell swoop.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of fell swoop (a quick, sudden downward movement by an attacking bird)
at/in one fell swoop
if you do something at one fell swoop, you do everything you have to do at the same time I'd prefer to do the paperwork in one fell swoop. At least then we know it's finished with.
wouldn't know something if it hit you in the facealso wouldn't know something if you fell over one
to not notice something although it is very obvious Julie wouldn't know a good deal if it hit her in the face!See can't tell arse from elbow, know the half of it, know by heart, know the ropes
one fell swoop, in
Also at one fell swoop. All at once, in a single action, as in This law has lifted all the controls on cable TV in one fell swoop. This term was used and probably invented by Shakespeare in Macbeth (4:3), where the playwright likens the murder of Macduff's wife and children to a hawk swooping down on defenseless prey. Although fell here means "cruel" or "ruthless," this meaning has been lost in the current idiom, where it now signifies "sudden."
one fell swoop
A single and rapid act. “Fell” comes from an Old English word for frightful and “swoop” describes the way hawks and other birds of prey drop out of the sky to capture their victims. Accordingly, something that is done “in one fell swoop,” whether or not it is awful, happens with no hesitation. Shakespeare coined the phrase in Macbeth, where the character Macduff laments the murders of his wife and children with “What, all my pretty chick- ens and their dam / At one fell swoop?”