I cannot think of any single word that means a person's life changed for the worse. While there are many phrases, i.e. fallen heroes for good guy turned bad, or take a turn for the worse, turning to the dark side,I cannot think of a single word that describes this phenomenon. An example would be in my subjective opinion, how Lindsey Lohan a child star took drugs as she grew older or Harvey becoming Two-face in Batman.

The sentence structure should be: He/She __________. And they would get the idea that their life turned bad or took a change for the worse.

  • 2
    Worsened is the word that struck my mind the moment I saw the question. It directly means became worse. Mar 25, 2016 at 8:33
  • I accidentally forgot one word, life. Made edits to the question. Also I don't think, He/She worsened works. His condition worsened does work though. Perhaps only a phrase can describes the problem well. I am quite satisfied with the answer below as I believe it describes the situation well. Unfortunately it is not a single word, but I like it. Mar 25, 2016 at 8:58
  • "fell from grace", "had a downfall", "met with misfortune", etc. It's hard to imagine a single word that would precisely define this situation. Any such word would be ambiguous unless there was additional context (i.e., a phrase). Mar 25, 2016 at 15:47
  • "He/She had an epiphany." Epiphany would be a good word, but it usually has a good connotation.
    – 54 69 6D
    Jul 17, 2016 at 19:37

3 Answers 3


There are many single words that mean change for the worse, such as decline, deteriorate, regress, degrade, fade, weaken etc. A good thesaurus will give you more.

But to fit precisely what you are looking for, I think the best expression is go(ne) off the rails. this may be used more in Britain than America. But if you look in Cambridge Dictionaries Online it has an entry on it.

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    I don't think there is a single word that can describe it. But your phrase, gone of the rails does it even better than what I suggested. Mar 25, 2016 at 8:55

Yes: the word is fall, both noun and verb.

As noun:

9b. A marked, often sudden, decline in status, rank, or importance
10b. often Fall Theology The loss of humanity's original innocence and happiness resulting from Adam and Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

As verb (what is being asked about most directly):

  1. to succumb to temptation or sin, esp. to become unchaste.
  2. to lose status, dignity, position, character, etc.

As a noun, downfall may be preferred in some contexts.

1.a. A loss of wealth, rank, reputation, or happiness; ruin.

(Definitions qtd. from American Heritage Dictionary.)

  • "He fell" or "she fell" wouldn't work. With no further context this means a physical fall, from a building or down to the floor. You would have to say "fell from grace" or something similar. Mar 25, 2016 at 15:42
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    Since William rose and Harold fell, there have been earls in Arundel. Mar 25, 2016 at 15:48
  • This means that he fell in battle, i.e. he was killed. And we need the context to figure that out. It doesn't fit the original question, which specifies a newly degraded or humbled life situation. The question also specified "he/she + [a single word]", i.e., some word that could stand on its own with no further context. I think that's an impossible request. Mar 25, 2016 at 15:57

The word "vicissitude", could be used here, which means a change in one's life or fortunes (carries a negative connotation, i.e. a change for the worse)

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    – NVZ
    Sep 16, 2017 at 8:03

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