fell

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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.
See also: fall, on, shoulder

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!
See also: asleep, fall, 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!
See also: asleep, fall, 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.
See also: fall, of, spell

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."
See also: and, bear, escape, fall, lion

fall (a)foul

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.
See also: fall, 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!
See also: backward, fall

fall victim

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.
See also: fall, victim

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.
See also: fell, hush

at one fell swoop

 and 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.
See also: fell, one, 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.
See also: bottom, fell, out

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.
See also: fell, hush

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.
See also: fell, just, off, truck, turnip

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.
See also: fell, great, little, oak, stroke

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
See also: bottom, fell, out

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)
See also: fell, one, swoop

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.
See also: fell, one, swoop

wouldn't know something if it hit you in the face

  also 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
See also: face, hit, if, know

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."
See also: fell, one

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?”
See also: fell, one, swoop
References in classic literature ?
The bloody hand fell to the ground, and the shades of death, with fate that no man can withstand, came over his eyes.
It went crashing in among his white teeth; the bronze point cut through the root of his tongue, coming out under his chin, and his glistening armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to the ground.
The hero fell on his knees, and propped himself with his hand resting on the ground till the darkness of night fell upon his eyes.
And the wife struck; but she missed her aim, and hit her husband on the head so that he fell down dead, and the sparrow flew quietly home to her nest.
The barrel, hurled a distance of thirty feet, cleared the barricade of dead bodies, and fell amidst a group of shrieking soldiers, who threw themselves on their faces.
The three first compartments became one sepulchral sink into which fell grimly back, in the order of their weight, every vegetable, mineral, or human fragment.
For this fell purpose he had backed the astounded De Vac twice around the hall when, with a clever feint, and backward step, the master of fence drew the King into the position he wanted him, and with the suddenness of lightning, a little twist of his foil sent Henry's weapon clanging across the floor of the armory.
As the blow fell the wiry Frenchman clicked his heels together, and throwing down his foil, he stood erect and rigid as a marble statue before his master.
With a crash which seemed to split the air, the huge structure fell.
It was a wild chaos where axe and sword rose and fell, while Englishman, Norman, and Italian staggered and reeled on a deck which was cumbered with bodies and slippery with blood.
Often had he heard of Sir Nigel's prowess and skill with all knightly weapons, but all the tales that had reached his ears fell far short of the real quickness and coolness of the man.
Although the heat was so intense that the paint on the houses over against the prison, parched and crackled up, and swelling into boils, as it were from excess of torture, broke and crumbled away; although the glass fell from the window-sashes, and the lead and iron on the roofs blistered the incautious hand that touched them, and the sparrows in the eaves took wing, and rendered giddy by the smoke, fell fluttering down upon the blazing pile; still the fire was tended unceasingly by busy hands, and round it, men were going always.
And when he fell among the crowd, he was not deterred by his bruises, but mounted up again, and fell again, and, when he found the feat impossible, began to beat the stones and tear them with his hands, as if he could that way make a breach in the strong building, and force a passage in.
And now the boasted coldness and indifference of the young man were tested indeed; and the retribution that fell heavily upon him nearly drove him mad.
He remembered how he used to look up into her pale face; and how her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she gazed upon his features--tears which fell hot upon his forehead as she stooped to kiss him, and made him weep too, although he little knew then what bitter tears hers were.