let someone down

1

Fail to support someone; also, disappoint someone. For example, I was counting on John to come, but he let me down, or The team didn't want to let down the coach. [Late 1400s] A British phrase with the same meaning is let the side down, alluding to some kind of competition (sports, politics) and dating from the mid-1900s. It is occasionally used in America.

2

let someone down easy. Convey bad or disappointing news in a considerate way, so as to spare the person's self-respect. For example, The teacher knew that Paul would have to repeat the course and that there was no way to let him down easy. [Colloquial; mid-1700s] Also see let down.

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