early 15c., "a waterfall, floodgate, furious rush of water," from Latin cataracta "waterfall," from Greek katarhaktes "waterfall, broken water; a kind of portcullis," noun use of an adjective compound meaning "swooping, down-rushing," from kata "down" (see cata-). The second element is traced either to arhattein "to strike hard" (in which case the compound is kat-arrhattein), or to rhattein "to dash, break."
Its alternative sense in Latin of "portcullis" probably passed through French and gave English the meaning "eye disease characterized by opacity of the lens" (early 15c.), on the notion of "obstruction" (to eyesight). Related: Cataractous.
"waterfall or rapid," c. 1600 (Hakluyt, in an account from Canada), from colonial French sault, 17c. alternative spelling of saut "to leap," from Latin saltus, from salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). Middle English sault, borrowed from Old French, was "a leap; an assault."
1760, "long deep gorge worn by a stream or torrent of water," from French ravin "a gully" (1680s, from Old French raviner "to pillage; to sweep down, cascade"), and from French ravine "violent rush of water, gully worn by a torrent" (from Old French ravine "violent rush of water, waterfall; avalanche; robbery, rapine"). The French noun and verb both are ultimately from Latin rapina "act of robbery, plundering" (see rapine) with sense influenced by Latin rapidus "rapid."
Ravine appears in an English dictionary 1610s as "a raging flood." Middle English ravin, ravine meant "booty, plunder, robbery" from c. 1350-1500, an earlier borrowing of the French word. Compare raven (v.), ravening.
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.