From crest +‎ fallen, from the appearance of a horse with its crest (head) on its chest after defeat in a battle.



crestfallen (comparative more crestfallen, superlative most crestfallen)

  1. Sad because of a disappointment.
    • 1876, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter XII, in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Hartford, Conn.: The American Publishing Company, OCLC 1000326417:
      Tom's cheeks burned. He gathered himself up and sneaked off, crushed and crestfallen.
    • 1891, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, chapter VI, in A Study in Scarlet. A Detective Story, 3rd edition, London; New York, N.Y.: Ward, Lock, Bowden, and Co., [], published 1892, OCLC 84167364:
      Gregson looked quite crestfallen.
    • 1897, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, chapter 12, in The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance, New York, N.Y.; London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, OCLC 904345282:
      Hall tried to convey everything by grimaces and dumb show, but Mrs. Hall was obdurate. She raised her voice. So Hall and Henfrey, rather crestfallen, tiptoed back to the bar, gesticulating to explain to her.
    • 1908 October, Kenneth Grahame, chapter 6, in The Wind in the Willows, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, OCLC 305520:
      'He did it awfully well,' said the crestfallen Rat.
    • 1946, Paramahansa Yogananda, chapter 15, in Autobiography of a Yogi:
      I rushed there; no lamp! Crestfallen, I returned to my guru.
    • 1995, Roger Lewis, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, page 743:
      And we can sense that, though permanently crestfallen, there is something in his nature, which makes him accept solitude, that is rather fearless.
    • 2010, Pseudonymous Bosch, chapter 3, in This Isn't What It Looks Like:
      Yes, unfortunately, she'd heard him correctly. She was crestfallen. Here she'd come so far to ask him the question, and he didn't know the answer.
    • 2011, Peter Tremayne, The Chalice of Blood: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland, page 9:
      Brother Gáeth was a tall man with almost ugly features and a permanently crestfallen expression that made the elderly abbot immediately feel guilty that he had spoken so roughly.
    • 2015, Alda de Jesus Oliveira, The PONTES Approach to Music Education: Learning to Reach Out:
      Diniz was a dark man who seemed closed in on himself, always crestfallen, walking along the walls and corners, answering questions with monosyllables and whispered sounds.
    • 2021, James Bowring, Down in the Country: A Carlow Valley Mystery:
      He had short, dark hair, liberally flecked with silver-grey strands, heavily lidded brown eyes and a mouth that turned down at the edges, giving him a permanently crestfallen expression.
  2. (obsolete, of a horse) Having the crest, or upper part of the neck, hanging to one side.


Derived termsEdit