Fall to despair, depression or dejection.


This sad verb’s origin is compounded of the verb to fall with the noun crest. The noun crest originates in the Latin word crista representing a tuft or a ridge of feathers found on many birds’ heads. The Latin word representing hair, crinis, also originated from the same stem.

Birds, cocks, horses and helmets all possess crests, a disemboguing fact to the question of origin. Crestfallen, the adjective, dates back to the 1580’s and is told to be related to the world of jousting, when the losing protagonist was knocked down from his horse with his shield and helmet- thus crest.

The verb crestfall was first recorded in the 1610’s, 30 years later, and related specifically to diseased horses. Notwithstanding these two, most researchers believe this adjective to originate in cocks rather than jousters and horses…

Why this word?

Crestfall is the everlasting combination of two beautiful words; today we use ‘fall’ simply as fall, but Old English used this verb for death, decay, failure and other pleasant semantic entities. Crest on the other hand, is the cock’s pride, the horse’s beauty, the jouster’s power. Thinking of the combination to all of the above, crestfall is the death of pride, beauty and power.

This word bares poetic imagery and an eloquent sound; fits perfectly in describing loss, failure and grief.

How to use crestfall?

Crestfallen, the adjective, is relatively used and simply used. The team was crestfallen after losing the game; Dana was crestfallen until she met you, etc.. This one however, deals with the unused verb crestfall; so unused that MC Word marks it as a misspelled word and offers a break between the two (crest fall) or the adjective.

Watching Tim crestfall was painful to me as it was to him; I tried telling him not to crestfall, to stay strong, but nothing helped.


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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.


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