in the gutter


Appropriate to or from a squalid, degraded condition. For example, The language in that book belongs in the gutter. An antonym, out of the gutter, means “away from vulgarity or sordidness,” as in That joke was quite innocent; get your mind out of the gutter. This idiom uses gutter in the sense of “a conduit for filthy waste.” [Mid-1800s]

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