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verb (used with object), down·sized, down·siz·ing.
  1. to design or manufacture a smaller version or type of: The automotive industry downsized its cars for improved fuel economy.
  2. to reduce in number; cut back.
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  1. Also down·sized. being of a smaller size or version: a downsize car.
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Origin of downsize

An Americanism dating back to 1970–75; down1 + size1
Can be confuseddownsize fire lay off rightsize terminate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for downsize


verb -sizes, -sizing or -sized (tr)
  1. to reduce the operating costs of a company by reducing the number of people it employs
  2. to reduce the size of or produce a smaller version of (something)
  3. to upgrade (a computer system) by replacing a mainframe or minicomputer with a network of microcomputersCompare rightsize
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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 downsize


1986 in reference to companies shedding jobs; earlier (1975) in reference to U.S. automakers building smaller cars and trucks (supposedly a coinage at General Motors), from down (adv.) + size (v.). Related: Downsized; downsizing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

downsize in Culture


To reduce in number, especially personnel: “The company decided to downsize half the workers in the aircraft division.” It can also be used in reference to objects: “I decided to downsize my wardrobe and threw out all my old T-shirts.”

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Downsize is a recent euphemism for “fire, lay off.” Company managers often use this term in an attempt to soften the blow of wide-scale layoffs.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.