Downfall vs Failure - What's the difference?

downfall | failure |

As nouns the difference between downfall and failure

is that downfall is a precipitous decline in fortune; death or rapid deterioration, as in status or wealth while failure is state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, opposite of success.

As a verb downfall

is to fall down; deteriorate; decline.




(en noun)
  • A precipitous decline in fortune; death or rapid deterioration, as in status or wealth.
  • Many economic and political reasons led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.
  • * {{quote-news
  • , year=2012 , date=May 13 , author=Alistair Magowan , title=Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd , work=BBC Sport citation , page= , passage=The Black Cats contributed to their own downfall for the only goal when Titus Bramble, making his first appearance since Boxing Day, and Michael Turner, let Phil Jones' cross bounce across the six-yard box as Rooney tucked in at the back post.}}
  • The cause of such a fall; a critical blow or error.
  • *
  • It is the downfall of evil, that it never sees far enough ahead.
  • An act of falling down.
  • * (Thomas Hardy), A Laodicean
  • Synonyms

    * (precipitous decline in fortune) fall * (death or rapid deterioration) doom

    Derived terms



  • To fall down; deteriorate; decline.
  • * 1977 , Mina P. Shaughnessy, Errors and expectations: a guide for the teacher of basic writing :
  • [...] wants to make civilization his subject, he will have a hard time proceeding with the sentence unless collapse is in his active vocabulary, for he cannot say "our civilization will downfall " or "fall down."
  • * 1998 , Peter Vink, Ernst A. P. Koningsveld, Steven Dhondt, Human factors in organizational design and management-VI :
  • Common belief has been that in the future the number of middle managers will downfall due to empowerment and team-building.
  • * 1998 , Lithuanian physics journal:
  • It should be noted that the magnitude of satellites decreases when tuning out of degeneracy, and in the wavelength range of 1.2-1.3 pm it downfalls to the value of 10-15% of the main spike magnitude.
  • * 2008 , Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra :
  • [...] As goodly air as ever From lunar orb downfell — Be it by hazard, Or supervened it by arrogancy?

    Derived terms

    * down-fallen, downfallen





    (en noun)
  • State or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, opposite of success.
  • * {{quote-news, year=2012, date=May 5, author=Phil McNulty, work=BBC Sport
  • , title= Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool , passage=For Liverpool, their season will now be regarded as a relative disappointment after failure to add the FA Cup to the Carling Cup and not mounting a challenge to reach the Champions League places.}}
  • * {{quote-news, year=2012, date=April 23, author=Angelique Chrisafis, work=the Guardian
  • , title= François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election , passage=Sarkozy's total will be seen as a personal failure . It is the first time an outgoing president has failed to win a first-round vote in the past 50 years and makes it harder for Sarkozy to regain momentum.}}
  • An object, person or endeavour in a state of failure or incapable of success.
  • Termination of the ability of an item to perform its required function, breakdown.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-28, author=(Joris Luyendijk)
  • , volume=189, issue=3, page=21, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title= Our banks are out of control , passage=Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic […].  Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. When a series of bank failures made this impossible, there was widespread anger, leading to the public humiliation of symbolic figures.}}


    * (person incapable of success) loser


    * (state or condition) success, triumph