Green’s Dictionary of Slang

run down v.

1. to denigrate someone, to slander someone.

[UK]N. Lee Princess of Cleve II iii: After all, they’ll thus run you down, and say your Grace is no Scholar.
[UK]Dryden An Evening’s Love I i: I am revenged on you, for running down my poor old master.
[UK]R. Steele Tatler No. 226 n.p.: He found himself run down as a superficial prating Quack.
[UK]W. Toldervy Hist. of the Two Orphans III 200: Their excellency lies in rude, choquing expressions, and what they call running a man down.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. XVII 42/2: Nymphs of renown, / Who with smiles and grimaces – are running her down!
[US]A. Greene Life and Adventures of Dr Dodimus Duckworth II 70: But ’tis’nt my business to run down my neighbours.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 54: I don’t like to hear you run down king Solomon neither.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker III 228: It don’t do to run down everything either, especially to the ladies.
[US]S. Judd Margaret (1851) I 189: ‘Gummy!’ retorted the woman. ‘He has been a talkin’ about me, and a runnin’ of me down.’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]E. Eden Semi-Attached Couple (1979) 140: Now, my dear Beaufort, do not you join to run down poor Stuart.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]A. Levy Reuben Sachs (2001) 63: He is always running them down.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer II 10: I mean it to apply to all of you men who run down the poor Count so.
[UK]A.N. Lyons Hookey 141: All our men-servants are very nice. The other gals don’t think so; an’ always run ’em down.
[UK]Marvel 6 Oct. 308: You know I ain’t one of those who run down Andrews.
[UK]A.N. Lyons Arthur’s 298: An’ mind you, ’e is MY BOY, an’ anybody as runs ’im down ’ll learn about it. I can put ’em up all right.
[US] ‘Word-List From West Brattleboro’ in DN III:vi 454: run down, v. To depreciate, disparage. ‘He run down the whole town and all the people.’.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 696: She was edging to draw down a conversation about husbands and talk about him to run him down.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 128: You can run me down and call me names.
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 267: It’s no good running down the government.
[US]J. Evans Halo For Satan (1949) 146: It suddenly hit him [...] that he’d been running down a customer and the customer might find out about it.
[Aus](con. 1941) E. Lambert Twenty Thousand Thieves 148: You wouldn’t be any happier there judging by the way you’re running the colonel down.
[US]J. Thompson Criminal (1993) 17: They were always running someone down.
[UK]G. Melly Owning Up (1974) 57: Mick, whose ears are as sharp as his eyes are dim, was always hearing Paul running him down as a musician.
[UK]P. Theroux London Embassy 70: Just because you like English schools doesn’t mean you have to run down American ones.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 19 May 1: Don’t run Easington down.

2. (W.I.) to seduce someone, to persuade them to become one’s lover.

[US]E. Caldwell Bastard (1963) 26: The women in this town run the men down. [Ibid.] 69: Say, kid, why did you start hustling? [...] What made you start running down men?
[US]Louis Jordan ‘I’m Alabama Bound’ [lyrics] Oh, the rooster crowed, / And the hen looked ’round, / Says, ‘If you want me to love you, / You gotta run me down.’.

3. to rehearse, to practise, to explain.

[US]Down Beat 1 Dec. 10: We ran down three new instrumentals.
[US]G. Kanin Blow Up a Storm 19: I distributed the parts and we ran it down.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 410: He could run down the Civil War, shot for shot.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 47: I flapped my ears when I heard one of the white repeaters running down the joint [...] to a fish.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 7: Teaching English in some little ivy-covered brick schoolhouse in New England – running down Jack London to all those blond little plumpling dumpling kids.
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 169: He had Marty run down the score for him.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 73: They laid that shit out and ran it down.
[US]‘The Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 84: Let me run you down some of my rap.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 576: Bayard ran it down. Bayard described mirrors and mike plants. Bayard described a fruit squeeze.

4. to verbalize.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Farm (1968) 94: I cut it off by running down my holebit and the thing that brought it on.
[US]B. Seale Seize the Time 42: I had always been running down about how we need this organization, that organization, but never anything concrete.

In phrases

run down the game (v.)

see under game n.

run it down (v.) (also run it to)

(mainly US black) to explain, to point out facts.

[US]M. Shulman Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (1959) 151: You guys [...] run it [i.e. an idea] down, and wrap it up.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 213: That’s one way, but run it to me anyway.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 181: Didn’t I just run it down to you?
[US](con. 1950s) D. Goines Whoreson 109: Sit down mellow and run it to me.
[US]O. Hawkins Chili 52: She ran it all down to me.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 152: The way Whisper ran it down, before the midsixties, there were no racist gangs in California’s penitentiaries.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 42: My mother would have seemed the person most likely to run it [i.e. the ‘facts of life’] down.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 79: I reckon Phil will run it all down to ya. It’s about him and Jazz.