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go south

verb phrase

to fall or slide down; to decline; to fall in value


His golf game is going south.

Usage Note

slang; goes south, going south, went south, gone south's 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for go south

"vanish, abscond," 1920s, American English, probably from mid-19c. notion of disappearing south to Mexico or Texas to escape pursuit or responsibility, reinforced by Native American belief (attested in colonial writing mid-18c.) that the soul journeys south after death.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for go south

go south

verb phrase

  1. To disappear; fail by or as if by vanishing: He played unbelievably, then all of a sudden he just went south/ North Goes South/ Royals' offense heads south when Cone takes turn on mound (1940s+)
  2. To abscond with money, loot, etc: She went south with a couple of silk pieces/ I hope he doesn't go South with the winnings (1925+)
  3. To cheat, esp to cheat at cards: go south 1: Palm cards or chips 2: Quit a game while winning, pretending to have suffered losses (1950+ Underworld)
  4. To lessen; diminish: concern about injury went south/ His salary request needs to take a turn south/ The price immediately heads south in a highly competitive market (1980s+)

[probably fr the notion of disappearing south of the border, to Texas or to the Mexican border, to escape legal pursuit and responsibility; probably reinforced by the widespread Native American belief that the soul after death journeys to the south, attested in American Colonial writing fr the mid-1700s; GTT, ''Gone to Texas, absconded,'' is found by 1839]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with go south

go south

Deteriorate or decline, as in The stock market is headed south again. This expression is generally thought to allude to compasses and two-dimensional maps where north is up and south is down. However, among some Native Americans, the term was a euphemism for dying, and possibly this sense led to the present usage. [ ; first half of 1900s ]
Also see: go west
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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