AskDefine | Define pratfall

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative forms


prat + fall


  1. A fall on to the buttocks.
  2. A humiliating mistake.
  3. A staged trip or fall, often for comedic purposes.
    The motivational speaker started with a pratfall so he could speak about the importance of getting back up.


  1. To fall on to the buttocks.

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Physical comedy is a comedic performance relying mostly on the use of the body to convey humor.
Whether a pratfall (i.e. landing on the buttocks), a silly face, or by walking into walls, physical comedy (even used to entertain small children) is a common and rarely subtle form of comedy. It is a clownish exploitation of movement, the most primordial human medium of expression, which predates language and the introduction of cerebral elements to humor such as cultural tradition, erudition and word puns.
The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Don Knotts, "Rob" Petrie (Dick van Dyke's character on the The Dick Van Dyke Show), Jack Tripper (John Ritter's character on Three's Company), Kramer (Michael Richards's character on Seinfeld), Chris Farley, and Mr. Bean are all examples of physical comedy characters.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bloomer, blooper, bobble, bonehead play, boner, boo-boo, boob stunt, boot, breakdown, collapse, comedown, crash, cropper, culbute, deflation, dive, downfall, dumb trick, fall, flop, fool mistake, foozle, forced landing, foul-up, goof, header, howler, louse-up, muck-up, nose dive, plunge, screamer, screw-up, smash, spill, sprawl, stumble, tailspin, trip, tumble
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