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Idioms for down-low
- (of a man) secretly or discreetly engaging in sex with other men.
- secret; discreet: Okay I'll tell you, but keep it on the down-low.
Words nearby down-low
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does down-low mean?
Content warning: the following content includes references to sexual activity.
Something on the down-low is secret or private.
Down-low can also specifically refer to Black men who secretly have sex.
Where does down-low come from?
Since at least the early 2000s, down-low refers to men who secretly have sex (on the down low) with other men. It’s historically used of urban Black men who otherwise present as heterosexual, often married and with children, in a culture where homosexuality has been stigmatized.
How is down-low used in real life?
One can use down-low in general contexts for information that’s kept secret, discreet, or private (e.g., Keep this on the down-low, but I lost my job).
If a person is on the down-low, that means they are keeping a low profile and staying out of the public eye.
Lmao Tori keeps her personal life on the dl for a reason, stop assuming things and let her live geez
— 🇮🇸ACAB (@sweatyves) November 29, 2015
Down-low, however, is very frequently used to talk about Black men who secretly or discreetly engage in sex with each other. The 2007 TV show The DL Chronicles followed men of color leading secret sex lives—and also showcases that down-low is frequently abbreviated as DL.
More examples of down-low:
“Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt may lose his license to practice law — after failing to disclose an arrest on suspicion of assaulting a police officer in Virginia…Today Laxalt held an event in Reno, but refused to answer questions from local TV station KOLO ‘about why he’s been on the down low for the last few months.’”
—Rachel Hosie, The Independent (UK), April 2017
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for down-low
She's willing to speak about things people might to keep on the down-low or hush-hush.Sex Trafficking Survivor’s Inspiring Political Run in Portland, OR|John Avlon|April 3, 2012|DAILY BEAST
And I got the impression they were on the down-low, and they were a couple.Amy Poehler Talks to Rachel Dratch About Her Memoir|Amy Poehler|March 26, 2012|DAILY BEAST