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or let-down

[let-doun] /ˈlɛtˌdaʊn/
a decrease in volume, force, energy, etc.:
a letdown in sales; a general letdown of social barriers.
disillusionment, discouragement, or disappointment:
The job was a letdown.
depression; deflation:
He felt a terrible letdown at the end of the play.
the accelerated movement of milk into the mammary glands of lactating mammals upon stimulation, as by massage or suckling.
Aeronautics. the descent of an aircraft from a higher to a lower altitude preparatory to making an approach and landing or to making a target run or the like.
Origin of letdown
1760-70; noun use of verb phrase let down


[let] /lɛt/
verb (used with object), let, letting.
to allow or permit:
to let him escape.
to allow to pass, go, or come:
to let us through.
to grant the occupancy or use of (land, buildings, rooms, space, etc., or movable property) for rent or hire (sometimes followed by out).
to contract or assign for performance, usually under a contract:
to let work to a carpenter.
to cause to; make:
to let one know the truth.
(used in the imperative as an auxiliary expressive of a request, command, warning, suggestion, etc.):
Let me see. Let us go. Just let them try it!
verb (used without object), let, letting.
to admit of being rented or leased:
The apartment lets for $100 per week.
British. a lease.
Verb phrases
let down,
  1. to disappoint; fail.
  2. to betray; desert.
  3. to slacken; abate:
    We were too near success to let down in our efforts.
  4. to allow to descend slowly; lower.
  5. Aeronautics. (of an airplane) to descend from a higher to a lower altitude preparatory to making an approach and landing or a similar maneuver.
let in,
  1. to admit.
  2. to involve (a person) in without his or her knowledge or permission:
    to let someone in for a loss.
  3. Also, let into. to insert into the surface of (a wall or the like) as a permanent addition:
    to let a plaque into a wall.
  4. Also, let in on. to share a secret with; permit to participate in.
let off,
  1. to release by exploding.
  2. to free from duty or responsibility; excuse.
  3. to allow to go with little or no punishment; pardon:
    The judge let off the youthful offender with a reprimand.
let on,
  1. to reveal one's true feelings:
    She was terrified at the prospect, but didn't let on.
  2. to pretend:
    They let on that they didn't care about not being invited, but I could tell that they were hurt.
let out,
  1. to divulge; make known.
  2. to release from confinement, restraint, etc.
  3. to enlarge (a garment).
  4. to terminate; be finished; end:
    When does the university let out for the summer?
  5. to make (a let-out fur or pelt).
let up,
  1. to slacken; diminish; abate:
    This heat wave should let up by the end of the week.
  2. to cease; stop:
    The rain let up for a few hours.
let up on, to treat less severely; be more lenient with:
He refused to let up on the boy until his grades improved.
let alone. alone (def 8).
let be,
  1. to refrain from interference.
  2. to refrain from interfering with.
let go. go1 (def 93).
let someone have it, Informal. to attack or assault, as by striking, shooting, or rebuking:
The gunman threatened to let the teller have it if he didn't move fast.
before 900; Middle English leten, Old English lǣtan; cognate with Dutch laten, German lassen, Old Norse lāta, Gothic lētan; akin to Greek lēdeîn to be weary, Latin lassus tired. See late
1. See allow. 1. suffer, grant. 3. lease, rent, sublet, hire.
1. prevent.
Usage note
Let us is used in all varieties of speech and writing to introduce a suggestion or a request: Let us consider all the facts before deciding. The contracted form let's occurs mostly in informal speech and writing: Let's go. Let's not think about that right now. Perhaps because let's has come to be felt as a word in its own right rather than as the contraction of let us, it is often followed in informal speech and writing by redundant or appositional pronouns: Let's us plan a picnic. Let's you and I (or me) get together tomorrow. Both Let's you and me and Let's you and I occur in the relaxed speech of educated speakers. The former conforms to the traditional rules of grammar; the latter, nonetheless, occurs more frequently. See also leave1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for let-down
Historical Examples
  • At the hospital they said his nerves were iron; there was no let-down after the day's work.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The only prudent thing for this rapid was a let-down and we went at it at once.

    A Canyon Voyage Frederick S. Dellenbaugh
  • But what I object to most is the 'let-down' at the tag-end of each of these yarns.

    The Wood Fire in No. 3 F. Hopkinson Smith
  • The man in ermine reeled as if from some let-down of extreme tension.

    The Hour of the Dragon Robert E. Howard
  • Too many couples exploit the sense of let-down that marriage brings with it.

  • The let-down from the toil and excitement of the past months still held me.

    Gold Stewart White
  • After dinner four more rapids were put behind; we ran all but one at which we made a let-down.

    A Canyon Voyage Frederick S. Dellenbaugh
  • Well, Mr. Coburn, you'll find it's going to be a let-down instead!

    The Invaders William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • The Incroyable was a person of almost magical perceptiveness; he felt the let-down immediately and feared a failure.

    The Two Vanrevels Booth Tarkington
  • The two weeks spent in crossing and recrossing had provided her with a let-down that had been almost jarring in its completeness.

    Fanny Herself Edna Ferber
British Dictionary definitions for let-down


verb (transitive; usually takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive) lets, letting, let
to permit; allow: she lets him roam around
(imperative or dependent imperative)
  1. used as an auxiliary to express a request, proposal, or command, or to convey a warning or threat: let's get on, just let me catch you here again!
  2. (in mathematical or philosophical discourse) used as an auxiliary to express an assumption or hypothesis: let "a" equal "b"
  3. used as an auxiliary to express resigned acceptance of the inevitable: let the worst happen
  1. to allow the occupation of (accommodation) in return for rent
  2. to assign (a contract for work)
to allow or cause the movement of (something) in a specified direction: to let air out of a tyre
(Irish, informal) to utter: to let a cry
let alone
  1. (conjunction) much less; not to mention: I can't afford wine, let alone champagne
  2. let be, leave alone, leave be, to refrain from annoying or interfering with: let the poor cat alone
let go, See go1 (sense 59)
let loose
  1. to set free
  2. (informal) to make (a sound or remark) suddenly: he let loose a hollow laugh
  3. (informal) to discharge (rounds) from a gun or guns: they let loose a couple of rounds of ammunition
(Brit) the act of letting property or accommodation: the majority of new lets are covered by the rent regulations
Word Origin
Old English lǣtan to permit; related to Gothic lētan, German lassen


an impediment or obstruction (esp in the phrase without let or hindrance)
(tennis, squash)
  1. a minor infringement or obstruction of the ball, requiring a point to be replayed
  2. the point so replayed
verb lets, letting, letted, let
(transitive) (archaic) to hinder; impede
Word Origin
Old English lettan to hinder, from lætlate; related to Old Norse letja
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for let-down



also let-down, "disappointment," 1768, from let (v.) + down (adv.). The verbal phrase is from mid-12c. in a literal sense; figuratively by 1795.



Old English lætan "to allow to remain; let go, leave, depart from; leave undone; to allow; bequeath," also "to rent" (class VII strong verb; past tense let, past participle læten), from Proto-Germanic *letan (cf. Old Saxon latan, Old Frisian leta, Dutch laten, German lassen, Gothic letan "to leave, let"), from PIE *le- "to let go, slacken" (cf. Latin lassus "faint, weary," Lithuanian leisti "to let, to let loose;" see lenient). If that derivation is correct, the primary sense would be "let go through weariness, neglect."

Of blood, from late Old English. To let (something) slip originally (1520s) was a reference to hounds on a leash; figurative use from 1540s. To let (someone) off "allow to go unpunished" is from 1814. To let on "reveal, divulge" is from 1725; to let up "cease, stop" is from 1787. Let alone "not to mention" is from 1812.


"stoppage, obstruction" (obsolete unless in legal contracts), late 12c., from archaic verb letten "to hinder," from Old English lettan "hinder, delay," from Proto-Germanic *latjanan (cf. Old Saxon lettian "to hinder," Old Norse letja "to hold back," Old High German lezzen "to stop, check," Gothic latjan "to hinder, make late," Old English læt "sluggish, slow, late"); see late.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for let-down



  1. A disappointment; comedown: Actually meeting him was something of a letdown (1889+)
  2. The gradual descent of an airplane toward a landing (1945+)
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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Related Abbreviations for let-down


linear energy transfer
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with let-down
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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