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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to descend; let or put down: to lower a flag.
  2. to make lower in height or level: to lower the water in a canal.
  3. to reduce in amount, price, degree, force, etc.
  4. to make less loud: Please lower your voice.
  5. to bring down in rank or estimation; degrade; humble; abase (oneself), as by some sacrifice of self-respect or dignity: His bad actions lowered him in my eyes.
  6. Music. to make lower in pitch; flatten.
  7. Phonetics. to alter the articulation of (a vowel) by increasing the distance of the tongue downward from the palate: The vowel of “clerk” is lowered to (ä) in the British pronunciation.
verb (used without object)
  1. to become lower, grow less, or diminish, as in amount, intensity, or degree: The brook lowers in early summer. Stock prices rise and lower constantly.
  2. to descend; sink: the sun lowering in the west.
  1. comparative of low1.
  2. of or relating to those portions of a river farthest from the source.
  3. (often initial capital letter) Stratigraphy. noting an early division of a period, system, or the like: the Lower Devonian.
  1. a denture for the lower jaw.
  2. a lower berth.

Origin of lower1

1150–1200; Middle English, comparative of low1 (adj.)
Related formslow·er·a·ble, adjective


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1. drop, depress. 3. decrease, diminish, lessen. 4. soften. 5. humiliate, dishonor, disgrace, debase.


3. raise, increase. 5. elevate, honor.


[lou-er, louuh r]
verb (used without object)
  1. to be dark and threatening, as the sky or the weather.
  2. to frown, scowl, or look sullen; glower: He lowers at people when he's in a bad mood.
  1. a dark, threatening appearance, as of the sky or weather.
  2. a frown or scowl.
Also lour.

Origin of lower2

1250–1300; Middle English lour (noun), louren (v.) to frown, lurk; akin to German lauern, Dutch loeren


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1. darken, threaten.


adjective, low·er, low·est.
  1. situated, placed, or occurring not far above the ground, floor, or base: a low shelf.
  2. of small extent upward; not high or tall: A low wall surrounds the property.
  3. not far above the horizon, as a planet: The moon was low in the sky.
  4. lying or being below the general level: low ground.
  5. designating or pertaining to regions near sea level, especially near the sea: low countries.
  6. bending or passing far downward; deep: a low bow.
  7. (of a garment) low-necked; décolleté: The dress she wore was fashionably low.
  8. rising but slightly from a surface: a low relief on a frieze.
  9. of less than average or normal height or depth, as a liquid or stream: The river is low this time of year.
  10. near the first of a series: a low number.
  11. ranked near the beginning or bottom on some scale of measurement: a low income bracket.
  12. indicating the bottom or the point farthest down: the low point in his creative life.
  13. lacking in strength, energy, or vigor; feeble; weak: to feel low and listless.
  14. providing little nourishment or strength, as a diet.
  15. of small number, amount, degree, force, intensity, etc.: low visibility; a generator with a low output.
  16. indicated or represented by a low number: A low latitude is one relatively near the equator.
  17. soft: subdued; not loud: a low murmur.
  18. Music. produced by relatively slow vibrations, as sounds; grave in pitch.
  19. assigning or attributing little worth, value, excellence, or the like: a low estimate of a new book.
  20. containing a relatively small amount: a diet low in starches.
  21. nearing depletion; not adequately supplied: low on funds; Our stock of towels is low.
  22. depressed or dejected: low spirits.
  23. far down in the scale of rank or estimation; humble: of low birth.
  24. of inferior quality or character: a low grade of fabric; a low type of intellect.
  25. lacking in dignity or elevation, as of thought or expression.
  26. mean, base, or disreputable: low tricks; low companions.
  27. coarse or vulgar: entertainment of a low sort.
  28. Boxing. struck or delivered below a contestant's belt.
  29. Biology. having a relatively simple structure; not complex in organization.
  30. Phonetics. (of a vowel) articulated with a relatively large opening above the tongue, as the vowels of hat, hut, hot, ought, etc.Compare high(def 23).
  31. Automotive. of, relating to, or operating at the gear transmission ratio at which the drive shaft moves at the lowest speed with relation to the speed of the engine crankshaft, used especially for temporarily overcoming the weight or inertia of the vehicle; first: low gear.
  32. Baseball. (of a pitched ball) passing the plate at a level below that of the batter's knees: a low curve.
  33. Cards. having less value than other cards: a low card.
  34. Metallurgy. having a relatively small amount of a specified constituent (usually used in combination): low-carbon steel.
  35. Chiefly British. holding to Low Church principles and practices.
adverb, low·er, low·est.
  1. in or to a low position, point, degree, etc.: The raiders crouched low in the bushes.
  2. near the ground, floor, or base; not aloft: The plane flew low.
  3. in or to a humble or abject state: Some live low while others live high. She swore she would bring him low.
  4. in or to a condition of depletion, prostration, or death: The gas in the tank is running low.
  5. at comparatively small cost; cheaply: to buy something low and sell it high.
  6. at or to a low pitch, volume, intensity, etc.: to turn the radio low; lights turned down low.
  7. in a low tone; softly; quietly; to speak low.
  8. Archaic. far down in time; late.
  1. something that is low, as ground or prices: numerous marshy lows in the forest; the recent low in the stock market.
  2. Automotive. low gear; first gear.
  3. Meteorology. an atmospheric low-pressure system; cyclone.Compare high(def 37).
  4. Cards.
    1. the lowest trump card.
    2. a card of small value, or of lower value than other cards.
    3. the lowest score in a game.
    4. a player having such a score.
  5. a point of deepest decline, vulgarity, etc.: a new low in tastelessness.
  6. Slang. a period of intense depression or discomfort, when the effects of a drug have subsided.
  1. lay low,
    1. to overpower or kill; defeat: to lay one's attackers low.
    2. to knock down; make prostrate.
    3. Informal.to lie low.
  2. lie low,
    1. to conceal oneself: He had to lie low for a while.
    2. to do nothing until the right opportunity develops; bide one's time: Until the dispute is settled, you would do best to lie low.

Origin of low1

1125–75; Middle English lowe, lohe (adj. and noun), earlier lāh < Old Norse lāgr (adj.); cognate with Old Frisian lēge, lēch, Dutch laag, Old High German laege; akin to lie2
Related formslow·ish, adjectivelow·ness, nouno·ver·low·ness, noun
Can be confusedlow lowly


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13. exhausted, sinking, expiring, dying. 17. quiet. 18. deep. 22. dispirited, unhappy, sad. 23. lowly, meek, obscure. 26. ignoble, degraded, servile. 27. rude, crude. See mean2.


1–3. high.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lower

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for lower


  1. being below one or more other thingsthe lower shelf; the lower animals
  2. reduced in amount or valuea lower price
  3. maths (of a limit or bound) less than or equal to one or more numbers or variables
  4. (sometimes capital) geology denoting the early part or division of a period, system, formation, etcLower Silurian
  1. (tr) to cause to become low or on a lower level; bring, put, or cause to move down
  2. (tr) to reduce or bring down in estimation, dignity, value, etcto lower oneself
  3. to reduce or be reducedto lower one's confidence
  4. (tr) to make quieterto lower the radio
  5. (tr) to reduce the pitch of
  6. (tr) phonetics to modify the articulation of (a vowel) by bringing the tongue further away from the roof of the mouth
  7. (intr) to diminish or become less
Derived Formslowerable, adjective

Word Origin

C12 (comparative of low 1); C17 (vb)



verb (intr)
  1. (esp of the sky, weather, etc) to be overcast, dark, and menacing
  2. to scowl or frown
  1. a menacing scowl or appearance
Derived Formslowering or louring, adjectiveloweringly or louringly, adverb


  1. Sir David. 1891–1963, British political cartoonist, born in New Zealand: created Colonel BlimpSee blimp 2


  1. having a relatively small distance from base to top; not tall or higha low hill; a low building
    1. situated at a relatively short distance above the ground, sea level, the horizon, or other reference positionlow cloud
    2. (in combination)low-lying
    1. involving or containing a relatively small amount of somethinga low supply
    2. (in combination)low-pressure
    1. having little value or quality
    2. (in combination)low-grade
  2. of less than the usual or expected height, depth, or degreelow temperature
    1. (of numbers) small
    2. (of measurements) expressed in small numbers
  3. unfavourablea low opinion
  4. not advanced in evolutiona low form of plant life
  5. deepa low obeisance
  6. coarse or vulgara low conversation
    1. inferior in culture or status
    2. (in combination)low-class
  7. in a physically or mentally depressed or weakened state
  8. designed so as to reveal the wearer's neck and part of the bosoma low neckline
  9. with a hushed tone; quiet or softa low whisper
  10. of relatively small price or monetary valuelow cost
  11. music relating to or characterized by a relatively low pitch
  12. (of latitudes) situated not far north or south of the equator
  13. having little or no money
  14. abject or servile
  15. phonetics of, relating to, or denoting a vowel whose articulation is produced by moving the back of the tongue away from the soft palate or the blade away from the hard palate, such as for the a in English fatherCompare high (def. 22)
  16. (of a gear) providing a relatively low forward speed for a given engine speed
  17. (usually capital) of or relating to the Low Church
  1. in a low position, level, degree, intensity, etcto bring someone low
  2. at a low pitch; deepto sing low
  3. at a low price; cheaplyto buy low
  4. lay low
    1. to cause to fall by a blow
    2. to overcome, defeat or destroy
  5. lie low
    1. to keep or be concealed or quiet
    2. to wait for a favourable opportunity
  1. a low position, level, or degreean all-time low
  2. an area of relatively low atmospheric pressure, esp a depression
  3. electronics the voltage level in a logic circuit corresponding to logical zeroCompare high (def. 40)
Derived Formslowness, noun

Word Origin

C12 lāh, from Old Norse lāgr; related to Old Frisian lēch low, Dutch laag


noun Also: lowing
  1. the sound uttered by cattle; moo
  1. to make or express by a low or moo

Word Origin

Old English hlōwan; related to Dutch loeien, Old Saxon hlōian
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

Word Origin and History for lower


c.1600, "to descend, sink," from lower (adj.), from Middle English lahghere (c.1200), comparative of low (adj.). Transitive meaning "to let down, to cause to descend" attested from 1650s. Related: Lowered; lowering. In the sense "to cause to descend" the simple verb low (Middle English lahghenn, c.1200) was in use into the 18c.


"to look dark and threatening," also lour, Middle English louren, luren "to frown" (early 13c.), "to lurk" (mid-15c.), from Old English *luran or from its cognates, Middle Low German luren, Middle Dutch loeren "lie in wait." Form perhaps assimilated to lower (1). Related: Lowered; lowering.


c.1200, lahre, comparative of lah (see low (adj.)).



"not high," late 13c., from lah (late 12c.), "not rising much, being near the base or ground" (of objects or persons); "lying on the ground or in a deep place" (late 13c.), from Old Norse lagr "low," or a similar Scandinavian source (cf. Swedish låg, Danish lav), from Proto-Germanic *lega- "lying flat, low" (cf. Old Frisian lech, Middle Dutch lage, Dutch laag "low," dialectal German läge "flat"), from PIE *legh- "to lie" (see lie (v.2)).

Meaning "humble in rank" is from c.1200; "undignified" is from 1550s; sense of "dejected, dispirited" is attested from 1737; meaning "coarse, vulgar" is from 1759. In reference to sounds, "not loud," also "having a deep pitch," it is attested from c.1300. Of prices, from c.1400. In geographical usage, low refers to the part of a country near the sea-shore (c.1300; e.g. Low Countries "Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg," 1540s). As an adverb c.1200, from the adjective.



Old English hlowan "make a noise like a cow," from Proto-Germanic *khlo- (cf. Middle Dutch loeyen, Dutch loeien, Old Low Franconian luon, Old High German hluojen), from imitative PIE root *kele- (2) "to shout" (see claim (v.)).



sound made by cows, 1540s, from low (v.).



early 13c., from low (adj.). Of voices or sounds, from c.1300.



"hill," obsolete except in place names, Old English hlaw "hill, mound," especially "barrow," related to hleonian "to lean" (see lean (v.)). Cf. Latin clivus "hill" from the same PIE root.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lower in Science


  1. Being an earlier division of the geological or archaeological period named. Compare upper.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with lower


In addition to the idioms beginning with low

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.