fall (up)on (someone or something)

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fall (up)on (someone or something)

1. Literally, to fall down or topple over and strike someone or something. You can't just chuck stuff out the window like that. It might fall on someone outside! The box tumbled off the shelf and fell upon the ground with a huge crash.
2. To collapse, crumble, or cave in on someone or something. The firefighters were able to get those kids out of the house before the roof fell on them.
3. To strike or attack someone or something. We advanced and fell upon the enemy troops.
4. To experience something. When I lost my job, I really fell on hard times financially.
5. To become someone's sole task or responsibility. My husband's been away all week, so all of the household chores have fallen on me.
6. To unexpectedly find or realize something. Once I stopped obsessing about the problem, I fell upon a solution.
7. To occur on a particular day or date. Easter falls on the 12th of April this year. The final exam fell right on my birthday, so I wasn't exactly able to spend the whole day celebrating.
8. To be received with some reaction, especially one of disinterest, dismissal, or inaction. (Usually used in the phrase "fall (up)on deaf ears," or something similar.) They hold their protest outside the facility every weekend, even though they know their words are likely falling on deaf ears. I could tell our presentation was falling upon disinterested eyes.
See also: fall
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

fall (up)on someone or something

1. to collapse on top of someone or something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) The bridge fell upon a boat passing beneath it. A small branch fell on Jerry as he passed beneath the tree.
2. to attack someone or something. The cat fell upon the mouse and killed it. The children fell on the birthday cake and ate it all.
See also: fall, on

fall (up)on someone

[for a task] to become the duty of someone. The task of telling Mother about the broken vase fell upon Jane. The job of cleaning up the spill fell upon Tom.
See also: fall, on

fall on(to) someone or something

to collapse toward or onto someone or something. The fence fell onto the car, denting it severely. The branch fell on David.
See also: fall, on
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

fall on

Also, fall upon.
1. Attack suddenly and viciously, as in They fell on the guards and overpowered them. [c. 1400]
2. Meet with, encounter, as in They fell on hard times. [Late 1500s]
3. Find by chance, discover, as in We fell upon the idea last Saturday night. [Mid-1600s]
4. Be the responsibility or duty of someone, as in It fell on Clara to support the entire family. [Mid-1800s] Also see the subsequent idioms beginning with fall on.
See also: fall, on
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

fall on

or fall upon
1. To drop or descend from one location to a lower one: My coat got dirty when it fell on the muddy floor. The leaves fell upon the ground underneath the tree.
2. To occur at some particular point in time: My birthday falls on a Thursday this year. Their anniversary falls upon a Saturday this year.
3. To be passed on to someone, especially as a responsibility or burden: It falls on me now to maintain order here. It fell upon the president to solve the crisis.
4. To attack or beset someone or something suddenly and intensely: Insurgent forces fell on the unlucky patrol. A massive hurricane fell upon the coastal town.
5. To experience or enter into something, especially a negative state of affairs: The stockbrokers made a lot of money for a while, but fell on hard times during the recession. After he lost his job, he fell upon a difficult period.
See also: fall, on
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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