Verb from Middle English fallen, from Old English feallan ("to fall, fail, decay, die, attack"), from Proto-West Germanic *fallan ("to fall"), from Proto-Germanic *fallaną ("to fall"), from Proto-Indo-European *peh₃lH-.
Noun from Middle English fal, fall, falle, from Old English feall, ġefeall, from Proto-Germanic *fallą, *fallaz, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)pōl-. Cognate with Dutch val, German Fall, Danish fald, Swedish fall, Icelandic fall.
Sense of "autumn" is attested by the 1660s in England as a shortening of Middle English fall of the leaf (1540s), from the falling of leaves during this season. Along with autumn, it mostly replaced the older name harvest as that name began to be associated strictly with the act of harvesting. Compare spring, which began as a shortening of “spring of the leaf”.
Perhaps from the north-eastern Scottish pronunciation of whale.
Modern English dictionary
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