[ doun-uhnd-out, -uhn ]
See synonyms for: down-and-outdown-and-outs on

  1. without any money, or means of support, or prospects; destitute; penniless.

  2. without physical strength or stamina; disabled; incapacitated.

  1. too physically weakened by repeated defeats to qualify as a competent professional boxer.

  1. Also down-and-outer. a person who is down-and-out.

Origin of down-and-out

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90

Words Nearby down-and-out Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use down-and-out in a sentence

  • It is Ma who refuses to abandon the down-and-out Wilson family even though their company may slow the journey west.

  • The Oscars also like down-and-out characters and misunderstood geniuses, both of which tend to beget low-talkers.

    Mumbling Wins Oscars! | Zachary Pincus-Roth | March 3, 2010 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • But their impact on their down-and-out political parties may turn out to be nearly identical.

    France's Sarah Palin | Eric Pape | November 27, 2009 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • Of course Garrison had been to the dogs during the past year—what down-and-out jockey has not gone there?

    Garrison's Finish | W. B. M. Ferguson
  • Fane spoke up languidly: "It rather looks as though we were the down-and-out delegation at present; doesn't it, Orchil?"

    The Younger Set | Robert W. Chambers

British Dictionary definitions for down-and-out


  1. without any means of livelihood; impoverished and, often, socially outcast

  1. a person who is destitute and, often, homeless; a social outcast or derelict

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with down-and-out


Lacking funds or prospects; destitute, penniless. For example, After losing his job, car, and home, he was completely down and out. This term probably originated in boxing, where it alludes to the fighter who is knocked down and stays down for a given time, thereby losing the bout. [c. 1900] Also see down for the count.

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