See more synonyms for down on
  1. from higher to lower; in descending direction or order; toward, into, or in a lower position: to come down the ladder.
  2. on or to the ground, floor, or bottom: He fell down.
  3. to or in a sitting or lying position.
  4. to or in a position, area, or district considered lower, especially from a geographical or cartographic standpoint, as to the south, a business district, etc.: We drove from San Francisco down to Los Angeles.
  5. to or at a lower value or rate.
  6. to a lesser pitch or volume: Turn down the radio.
  7. in or to a calmer, less active, or less prominent state: The wind died down.
  8. from an earlier to a later time: from the 17th century down to the present.
  9. from a greater to a lesser strength, amount, etc.: to water down liquor.
  10. in an attitude of earnest application: to get down to work.
  11. on paper or in a book: Write down the address.
  12. in cash at the time of purchase; at once: We paid $50 down and $20 a month.
  13. to the point of defeat, submission, inactivity, etc.: They shouted down the opposition.
  14. in or into a fixed or supine position: They tied down the struggling animal.
  15. to the source or actual position: The dogs tracked down the bear.
  16. into a condition of ill health: He's come down with a cold.
  17. in or into a lower status or condition: kept down by lack of education.
  18. Nautical. toward the lee side, so as to turn a vessel to windward: Put the helm down!
  19. Slang. on toast (as used in ordering a sandwich at a lunch counter or restaurant): Give me a tuna down.
  1. in a descending or more remote direction or place on, over, or along: They ran off down the street.
  1. downward; going or directed downward: the down escalator.
  2. being at a low position or on the ground, floor, or bottom.
  3. toward the south, a business district, etc.
  4. associated with or serving traffic, transportation, or the like, directed toward the south, a business district, etc.: the down platform.
  5. downcast; depressed; dejected: You seem very down today.
  6. ailing, especially, sick and bedridden: He's been down with a bad cold.
  7. being the portion of the full price, as of an article bought on the installment plan, that is paid at the time of purchase or delivery: a payment of $200 down.
  8. Football. (of the ball) not in play.
  9. Slang.
    1. agreeing, supporting, or understanding: I'm totally down with that. He's down with those kids.
    2. sophisticated or hip; cool: That music is down.
  10. behind an opponent or opponents in points, games, etc.: The team won the pennant despite having been down three games in the final week of play.
  11. Baseball. out.
  12. losing or having lost the amount indicated, especially at gambling: After an hour at poker, he was down $10.
  13. having placed one's bet: Are you down for the fourth race?
  14. finished, done, considered, or taken care of: five down and one to go.
  15. out of order: The computer has been down all day.
  1. a downward movement; descent.
  2. a turn for the worse; reverse: The business cycle experienced a sudden down.
  3. Football.
    1. one of a series of four plays during which a team must advance the ball at least 10 yards (9 meters) to keep possession of it.
    2. the declaring of the ball as down or out of play, or the play immediately preceding this.
  4. Slang. an order of toast at a lunch counter or restaurant.
  5. Slang. downer(defs 1a, b).
verb (used with object)
  1. to put, knock, or throw down; subdue: He downed his opponent in the third round.
  2. to drink down, especially quickly or in one gulp: to down a tankard of ale.
  3. Informal. to defeat in a game or contest: The Mets downed the Dodgers in today's game.
  4. to cause to fall from a height, especially by shooting: Antiaircraft guns downed ten bombers.
verb (used without object)
  1. to go down; fall.
  1. (used as a command to a dog to stop attacking, to stop jumping on someone, to get off a couch or chair, etc.): Down, Rover!
  2. (used as a command or warning to duck, take cover, or the like): Down! They're starting to shoot!
  1. down and out, down-and-out.
  2. down cold/pat, mastered or learned perfectly: Another hour of studying and I'll have the math lesson down cold.
  3. down in the mouth, discouraged; depressed; sad.
  4. down on, Informal. hostile or averse to: Why are you so down on sports?
  5. down with!
    1. away with! cease!: Down with tyranny!
    2. on or toward the ground or into a lower position: Down with your rifles!

Origin of down

before 1100; Middle English doune, Old English dūne, aphetic variant of adūne for of dūne off (the) hill; see a-2, down3
Related formsun·downed, adjective


  1. the soft, first plumage of many young birds.
  2. the soft under plumage of birds as distinct from the contour feathers.
  3. the under plumage of some birds, as geese and ducks, used for filling in quilts, clothing, etc., chiefly for warmth.
  4. a growth of soft, fine hair or the like.
  5. Botany.
    1. a fine, soft pubescence on plants and some fruits.
    2. the light, feathery pappus or coma on seeds by which they are borne on the wind, as on the dandelion and thistle.
  1. filled with down: a down jacket.

Origin of down

1325–75; Middle English downe < Old Norse dūnn
Related formsdown·less, adjectivedown·like, adjective


  1. Often downs. (used especially in southern England) open, rolling, upland country with fairly smooth slopes usually covered with grass.
  2. (initial capital letter) any sheep of several breeds, raised originally in the downs of southern England, as the Southdown, Suffolk, etc.
  3. Archaic. a hill, especially a sand hill or dune.

Origin of down

before 1000; Middle English; Old English dūn hill; cognate with Dutch duin dune; not related to Irish, Old Irish dún (see town)


  1. a county in SW Northern Ireland. 952 sq. mi. (2466 sq. km). County seat: Downpatrick.
  2. an administrative district in this county. 253 sq. mi. (654 sq. km).

Downs, The

  1. a range of low ridges in S and SW England.
  2. a roadstead in the Strait of Dover, between SE England and Goodwin Sands. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for downs

Contemporary Examples of downs

Historical Examples of downs

  • The intervening time had been one of what I may call spiritual ups and downs.

  • We are like to give you some work to do ere you see the downs of Hampshire once more.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • It was in vain to ask why ups, why downs; there they was, you know.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • The Celts were a pastoral people; and their flocks grazed on the downs and hillsides.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • "I always retained my suit through all my ups and downs," he said with a smile.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

British Dictionary definitions for downs


pl n
  1. Also called: downland rolling upland, esp in the chalk areas of S Britain, characterized by lack of trees and used mainly as pasture
  2. Australian and NZ a flat grassy area, not necessarily of uplands


noun the Downs
  1. any of various ranges of low chalk hills in S England, esp the South Downs in Sussex
  2. a roadstead off the SE coast of Kent, protected by the Goodwin Sands


  1. a district of SE Northern Ireland, in Co Down. Pop: 65 195 (2003 est). Area: 649 sq km (250 sq miles)
  2. a historical county of SE Northern Ireland, on the Irish Sea: generally hilly, rising to the Mountains of Mourne: in 1973 it was replaced for administrative purposes by the districts of Ards, Banbridge, Castlereagh, Down, Newry and Mourne, North Down, and part of Lisburn. Area: 2466 sq km (952 sq miles)


  1. any of various lowland breeds of sheep, typically of stocky build and having dense close wool, originating from various parts of southern England, such as Oxford, Hampshire, etcSee also Dorset Down
  2. another name for Hampshire Down


  1. used to indicate movement from a higher to a lower positionthey went down the mountain
  2. at a lower or further level or position on, in, or alonghe ran down the street
  1. downwards; at or to a lower level or positiondon't fall down
  2. (particle) used with many verbs when the result of the verb's action is to lower or destroy its objectpull down; knock down; bring down
  3. (particle) used with several verbs to indicate intensity or completioncalm down
  4. immediatelycash down
  5. on paperwrite this down
  6. arranged; scheduledthe meeting is down for next week
  7. in a helpless positionthey had him down on the ground
    1. away from a more important placedown from London
    2. away from a more northerly placedown from Scotland
    3. (of a member of some British universities) away from the university; on vacation
    4. in a particular part of a countrydown south
  8. nautical (of a helm) having the rudder to windward
  9. reduced to a state of lack or wantdown to the last pound
  10. lacking a specified amountat the end of the day the cashier was ten pounds down
  11. lower in pricebacon is down
  12. including all intermediate terms, grades, people, etcfrom managing director down to tea-lady
  13. from an earlier to a later timethe heirloom was handed down
  14. to a finer or more concentrated stateto grind down; boil down
  15. sport being a specified number of points, goals, etc behind another competitor, team, etcsix goals down
  16. (of a person) being inactive, owing to illnessdown with flu
  17. (functioning as imperative) (to dogs)down Rover!
  18. down with (functioning as imperative) wanting the end of somebody or somethingdown with the king!
  19. get down on something Australian and NZ to procure something, esp in advance of needs or in anticipation of someone else
  1. (postpositive) depressed or miserable
  2. (prenominal) of or relating to a train or trains from a more important place or one regarded as higherthe down line
  3. (postpositive) (of a device, machine, etc, esp a computer) temporarily out of action
  4. made in casha down payment
  5. down to the responsibility or fault ofthis defeat was down to me
  6. down with informal
    1. having a good understanding ofdown with computers
    2. in agreement withcompletely down with that idea
    3. enjoying mutual friendship and respect withdown with the kids
  1. (tr) to knock, push or pull down
  2. (intr) to go or come down
  3. (tr) informal to drink, esp quicklyhe downed three gins
  4. (tr) to bring (someone) down, esp by tackling
  1. American football one of a maximum of four consecutive attempts by one team to advance the ball a total of at least ten yards
  2. a descent; downward movement
  3. a lowering or a poor period (esp in the phrase ups and downs)
  4. have a down on informal to bear ill will towards (someone or something)

Word Origin for down

Old English dūne, short for adūne, variant of of dūne, literally: from the hill, from of, off + dūn hill; see down 3


  1. the soft fine feathers with free barbs that cover the body of a bird and prevent loss of heat. In the adult they lie beneath and between the contour feathers
  2. another name for eiderdown (def. 1)
  3. botany a fine coating of soft hairs, as on certain leaves, fruits, and seeds
  4. any growth or coating of soft fine hair, such as that on the human face

Word Origin for down

C14: of Scandinavian origin; related to Old Norse dūnn


  1. archaic a hill, esp a sand duneSee also downs (def. 1), Downs (def. 1)

Word Origin for down

Old English dūn; related to Old Frisian dūne, Old Saxon dūna hill, Old Irish dūn fortress, Greek this sandbank; see dune, town
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 downs



late Old English shortened form of Old English ofdune "downwards," from dune "from the hill," dative of dun "hill" (see down (n.2)). A sense development peculiar to English.

Used as a preposition since c.1500. Sense of "depressed mentally" is attested from c.1600. Slang sense of "aware, wide awake" is attested from 1812. Computer crash sense is from 1965. As a preposition from late 14c.; as an adjective from 1560s. Down-and-out is from 1889, American English, from situation of a beaten prizefighter. Down home (adj.) is 1931, American English; down the hatch as a toast is from 1931; down to the wire is 1901, from horse-racing. Down time is from 1952. Down under "Australia and New Zealand" attested from 1886; Down East "Maine" is from 1825.



"soft feathers," late 14c., from Old Norse dunn, perhaps ultimately from PIE root *dheu- (1) "to fly about (like dust), to rise in a cloud."



Old English dun "down, moor; height, hill, mountain," from Proto-Germanic *dunaz- (cf. Middle Dutch dunen "sandy hill," Dutch duin, "probably a pre-insular loan-word from Celtic" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names], in other words, borrowed at a very early period, before the Anglo-Saxon migration.

The non-English Germanic words tend to mean "dune, sand bank" (cf. dune), while the Celtic cognates tend to mean "hill, citadel" (cf. Old Irish dun "hill, hill fort;" Welsh din "fortress, hill fort;" and second element in place names London, Verdun, etc.).

From PIE root *dheue- "to close, finish, come full circle." Meaning "elevated rolling grassland" is from c.1300. German Düne, French dune, Italian, Spanish duna are said to be loan-words from Dutch.



1560s, from down (adv.). Related: Downed; downing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with downs


In addition to the idioms beginning with down

  • down and dirty
  • down and out
  • down cold, have
  • down for the count
  • down in the dumps
  • down on
  • down one's alley
  • down one's neck
  • down one's nose
  • down on one's luck
  • down someone's throat
  • down the drain
  • down the hatch
  • down the line
  • down the pike
  • down the road
  • down the tubes
  • down to
  • down to earth
  • down to size
  • down to the ground
  • down to the wire
  • down with

also see:

  • back down
  • batten down the hatches
  • bear down
  • beat down
  • be down
  • belt down
  • bog down
  • boil down to
  • break down
  • breathe down one's neck
  • bring down
  • bring down the house
  • buckle down
  • build down
  • burn down
  • call down
  • cast down
  • caught with one's pants down
  • chow down
  • clamp down
  • close down
  • come down
  • come down on
  • come down to
  • come down with
  • cool down
  • cool off (down)
  • count down
  • crack down
  • cut down
  • deep down
  • die away (down)
  • dig down
  • draw down
  • dressing down
  • face down
  • fall down
  • flag down to
  • get down to brass tacks
  • go down (downhill)
  • go down the line
  • hand down
  • hands down
  • hold down
  • it's all downhill
  • jump down someone's throat
  • keep down
  • knock back (down)
  • knock down with a feather
  • knuckle down
  • lay down
  • lay down the law
  • lead down the garden path
  • let down easy
  • let one's hair down
  • let someone down
  • let the side down
  • lie down (on the job)
  • live down
  • look down on
  • lowdown, get the
  • mark down
  • mow down
  • nail down
  • pin down
  • pipe down
  • play down
  • plunk down
  • pull down
  • put down
  • put down roots
  • put one's foot down
  • ram down someone's throat
  • ring down the curtain
  • rub down
  • run down
  • scale down
  • sell down the river
  • send down
  • set down
  • settle down
  • shake down
  • shoot down
  • shout down
  • shut down
  • simmer down
  • sit down
  • slap down
  • slow down
  • splash down
  • stand down
  • stare down
  • step down
  • strike down
  • suit down to the ground
  • take down
  • take down a notch
  • take lying down
  • talk down to
  • tear down
  • the lowdown on
  • throw down the gauntlet
  • thumbs up (down)
  • tie down
  • tone down
  • touch down
  • track down
  • trade down
  • turn down
  • turn upside down
  • ups and downs
  • vote down
  • wash down
  • water down
  • wear down
  • weigh down
  • when it comes (down) to
  • when the chips are down
  • wind down
  • write down
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.