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[prat-fawl] /ˈprætˌfɔl/
a fall in which one lands on the buttocks, often regarded as comical or humiliating.
a humiliating blunder or defeat.
Origin of pratfall
1935-40; prat + fall Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pratfall
  • She's not above taking the occasional comedic pratfall.
  • Despite steady advances in hardware, no machine could think as far as to laugh at a pratfall or make a bad pun.
  • When you've seen one pratfall, however, you've seen almost all of them.
  • There's not a gold tooth here that isn't lingered on lovingly, and not a pratfall that its characters won't take.
  • They have never called attention to themselves so demandingly, only to pratfall so comically.
  • In one violent gesture, the pratfall condensed the culture's dynamism and panic.
  • Faith without doubt leads to moral arrogance, the eternal pratfall of the religiously convinced.
  • That's a pretty expensive pratfall, although museum authorities say the painting can be repaired.
British Dictionary definitions for pratfall


(US & Canadian, slang) a fall upon one's buttocks
Word Origin
C20: from C16 prat buttocks (of unknown origin) + fall
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pratfall

1939, from prat "buttock" + fall (n.). "Chiefly N. Amer. slang" [OED]. As a verb from 1940.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pratfall


  1. A fall on one's rump, esp by a clown or comedian: a perfect pratfall (1939+)
  2. A humiliating defeat; an embarrassing humiliation: the principles and pratfalls of the rhyming racket (1950+ fr theater)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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