Etymology
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flat (v.)
c. 1600, "to lay flat;" 1670s in music, from flat (adj.). Related: Flatted; flatting.
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flat (n.)

1801, "a story of a house," from Scottish flat "floor or story of a house," from Old English flett "a dwelling, hall; floor, ground," from Proto-Germanic *flatja-, from suffixed form of PIE root *plat- "to spread." Meaning "floor or part of a floor set up as an apartment" is from 1824. Directly from flat (adj.) come the senses "level ground near water" (late 13c.); "a flat surface, the flat part of anything" (1374), and "low shoe" (1834).

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fall (v.)

Old English feallan (class VII strong verb; past tense feoll, past participle feallen) "to drop from a height; fail, decay, die," from Proto-Germanic *fallanan (source also of Old Frisian falla, Old Saxon fallan, Dutch vallen, Old Norse falla, Old High German fallan, German fallen, absent in Gothic).

These are from PIE root *pol- "to fall" (source also of Armenian p'ul "downfall," Lithuanian puolu, pulti "to fall," Old Prussian aupallai "finds," literally "falls upon").

Meaning "come suddenly to the ground" is from late Old English. Of darkness, night, from c. 1600; of land sloping from 1570s; of prices from 1570s. Of empires, governments, etc., from c. 1200. Of the face or countenance from late 14c. Meaning "to be reduced" (as temperature) is from 1650s. Meaning "die in battle" is from 1570s. Meaning "to pass casually (into some condition)" is from early 13c.

To fall in "take place or position" is from 1751. To fall in love is attested from 1520s; to fall asleep is late 14c. To fall down is early 13c. (a-dun follon); to fall behind is from 1856. Fall through "fail, come to nothing" is from 1781. To fall for something is from 1903.

To fall out is by mid-13c. in a literal sense; military use is from 1832. Meaning "have a disagreement, begin to quarrel" is attested from 1560s (to fall out with "quarrel with" is from late 15c.).

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fall (n.)

c. 1200, "a falling to the ground; a dropping from a height, a descent from a higher to a lower position (as by gravity); a collapsing of a building," from Proto-Germanic *falliz, from the source of fall (v.). Old English noun fealle meant "snare, trap."

Of the coming of night from 1650s. Meaning "downward direction of a surface" is from 1560s, of a value from 1550s. Theological sense, "a succumbing to sin or temptation" (especially of Adam and Eve) is from early 13c.

The sense of "autumn" (now only in U.S. but formerly common in England) is by 1660s, short for fall of the leaf (1540s). Meaning "cascade, waterfall" is from 1570s (often plural, falls, when the descent is in stages; fall of water is attested from mid-15c.). The wrestling sense is from 1550s. Of a city under siege, etc., 1580s. Fall guy is attested by 1906.

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flat (adv.)
1550s, "absolutely, downright;" 1570s, "plainly, positively," from flat (adj.). Flat-out (adv.) "openly, directly" is from 1932, originally in motor racing, picked up in World War II by the airmen; earlier it was a noun meaning "total failure" (1870, U.S. colloquial).
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flat (adj.)

c. 1300, "stretched out (on a surface), prostrate, lying the whole length on the ground;" mid-14c., "level, all in one plane; even, smooth;" of a roof, "low-pitched," from Old Norse flatr "flat," from Proto-Germanic *flata- (source also of Old Saxon flat "flat, shallow," Old High German flaz "flat, level," Old High German flezzi "floor"), from PIE root *plat- "to spread."

From c. 1400 as "without curvature or projection." Sense of "prosaic, dull" is from 1570s, on the notion of "featureless, lacking contrast." Used of drink from c. 1600; of women's bosoms by 1864. Of musical notes from 1590s, because the tone is "lower" than a given or intended pitch. As the B of the modern diatonic scale was the first tone to be so modified, the "flat" sign as well as the "natural" sign in music notation are modified forms of the letter b (rounded or square).

Flat tire or flat tyre is from 1908. Flat-screen (adj.) in reference to television is from 1969 as a potential technology. Flat-earth (adj.) in reference to refusal to accept evidence of a global earth, is from 1876.

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free-fall (n.)

also freefall, "motion of a body where gravity is the only force acting upon it," by 1906, from free (adj.) + fall (v.). Related: Free-falling (1962).

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flat-iron (n.)
"iron for smoothing," 1810, from flat (adj.) + iron (n.). Applied to triangular or wedge-shaped buildings from 1862.
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flat-footed (adj.)
c. 1600, "with flat feet;" see flat (adj.) + foot (n.). Meaning "unprepared" is from 1912, U.S. baseball slang, on notion of "not on one's toes;" earlier in U.S. colloquial adverbial use it meant "straightforwardly, downright, resolute" (1828), from notion of "standing firmly."
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flat-top (n.)
1943, "aircraft carrier," U.S. Navy, from flat (adj.) + top (n.). As a style of haircut, from 1956.
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