Green’s Dictionary of Slang

down adv.1

[the lowering of one’s spirits]

1. (also downed, down on it) depressed.

[UK]Jonson Alchemist IV vii: Thou art so down upon the least disaster! How would’st thou ha’ done, if I had not help’t thee out?
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 23 Feb. 90/1: Thomas Past (that down looking Fellow ) came up next with something in his Hand.
[UK]Mme D’Arblay Diary and Letters (1904) I 260: I won’t be mortified, and I won’t be downed.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 70: A woman who cries bitterly is equally down, or ‘in a gallows-taking fit.’.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 74: Things with me are looking rather up-ish; but they have been down-ish a ‘tiny bit’ too long.
[UK]Dickens Bleak House (1991) 447: I am in the Downs.
[US]C.C. Nott Sketches in Prison Camps 151: Something must be done [...] to raise these fellows up. They are completely down, and if we don’t get them up, why they will pull us down too.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 298: ‘Now and then there’s a star’ [...] says he, cheerful and pleasant again; he was never down for long at a time.
[Aus]E.S. Sorenson Quinton’s Rouseabout and other Stories 133: ‘Yer seem down on it this mornin’,’ said Jarvers sulkily. ‘Have I not good reason to be?’ she returned, with tears in her eyes.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 39: They’re terble down, an’ it would cheer them up a bit.
[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 79: I feels ‘down’ every time I sees that little ’un.
[US]B. Johnson letter to Frederic Ramsey Jr in Hughes & Bontemps Book of Negro Folklore 453: I have been real down for about five years.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 188: I was down as low as I had ever been.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 28 Nov. in Proud Highway (1997) 588: You sounded pretty down.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 100: I’d never seen Rocco so down.
[UK](con. 1940s) O. Manning Sum of Things 397: You’re down now, but it won’t last. You’ll jump out of it, see if you don’t.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 349: He was desperately down about Helmet.
[UK]Indep. 29 Feb. 3: I always believe a soap audience is never as happy as when it is down.

2. depressing.

[US] ‘Ball of the Freaks’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 110: I’m raggedy and I’m down, / Wasn’t invited but I came around.

3. in a state unassisted by any drug.

[US]Murtagh & Harris Who Live In Shadow (1960) 13: A junkie can’t worry about getting busted by the coppers. Not when he’s getting down and starting to feel sick.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn 40: Oh God they’ll bug me. They know I cant stay down. They know it.
[US]E. Grogan Ringolevio 51: They were just down junkies [...] trying to scrape together the necessary money to keep the sick off.

In phrases

drop down on oneself (v.)

to feel depressed, esp. at the prospect of prison or judicially sanctioned death, to sink beneath one’s problems.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: This expression is used by thieves to signify that their companion did not die game, as the kiddy dropped down when he went to be twisted; the young fellow was very low spirited when he walked out to be hanged.
[Aus]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 236: down: To drop down upon yourself, is to become melancholy, or feel symptoms of remorse or compunction, on being committed to jail, cast for death, &c. To sink under misfortunes of any kind. A man who gives way to this weakness, is said to be down upon himself.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1812].
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
get someone down (v.)

to make someone depressed.

F.A. Waterhouse ’Twixt Hell & Allah 261: ‘[K]eep going and don’t let ‘em get you down’.
[US]D. Lamson We Who Are About to Die 107: It got me down [...] sitting there with a gun pointed at my head.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘Teamed with Genius’ in Pat Hobby Stories (1967) 72: This one has got me down.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 188: People talk, but you can’t let what they say get you down.
[UK]E. Bond Saved Scene ii: Livin’ like that must ’a got yer down.
[UK]P. Theroux Family Arsenal 148: Don’t let it get you down.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 457/1: late C.19–20.
[US]J. Ridley Love Is a Racket 73: Nothing could get her down the way Wesker had her liquored up.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

down front (adj.) [var. on up front adj. (1)]

(US black) open, honest, candid.

[US] ‘Good-Doing Wheeler’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 78: I’ve come down front, ’cause there’s something I want.
[US]W.D. Myers fast sam, cool clyde, and stuff 152: If you were asking her about something off the wall she would bring it right down front. And if you were saying one thing and meant something else, she would bring that down front, too.

In phrases


see also separate entries.

down buttock and sham file (n.) (also downright buttock and sham file) [SE down(right) + buttock and file under buttock n., modified by SE sham, fake]

a prostitute who does not resort to thieving.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Buttock and Twang, or a downright Buttock and sham File, c. a Common Whore but no Pickpocket.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Buttock and Twang, or a downright Buttock and sham File, c. a Common Whore but no Pickpocket.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1785].
down there (also down low) [euph.]

a coy ref. to the vagina; occas. the penis.

Jung q. in Psychoanalytic Rev. 4 62: The other case is of a young girl who complained [that] a peculiar sensation was produced in her genitals ‘as though there was eating and drinking down there’ (Jung, II, 190).
Psychoanalytic Qly 3 1:2 400: ‘Flo is there in front. You get a black tube down there. Flau is on the back side, with a short red tube’.
[US]H. Miller Sexus (1969) 141: The only thing that bothered her was that she seemed to grow larger down there with each abortion.
[US]J. Lahr Hot to Trot 25: Would you touch me down there?
[US](con. 1949) J.G. Dunne True Confessions (1979) 99: Cunt. c-u-n-t. It was a word Brenda used [...] Not Mary Margaret. ‘Down there,’ Mary Margaret said, and she meant down there on him as well as on her.
[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 147: From them she might pick up and more to startle than identify with her [lesbian] sisters use words and expressions such as [...] tourist (not in the life but down there on a visit, etc.).
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 237: I’ll shave first. You know . . . down there.
[US]C. Stella Eddie’s World 18: And maybe he’s bigger than me down there.
[UK]G. Iles Turning Angel 27: She said Kate had a lot of trauma—down there, you know? [Ibid.] 173: Drew asked if she kissed me ‘down low’ better than he does.
Misadventures On Line 10 Nov. 🌐 Adventures in Medical School. Look, I’m in training to be a doctor. I know extensively what’s going on ‘down there’.
[US]M. Sheridan ‘102 Over 110’ in ThugLit Mar. [ebook] [W]hen you touched Linda down there she would moan just from the touching.
down to cases

1. (US) down to the hard facts; to a final reckoning; usu. as come down... / get down..

[US]A.H. Lewis Wolfville 48: This yere brings things down to cases.
[US]Seattle Repub. (WA) 25 Jan. 5/3: It took the Senate committee on railroads but a few hours after getting down to caases to discover that Pie-maker had been barking up the right tree.
[US]‘Sing Sing No. 57,700’ My View on Books in N.Y. Times Mag. 30 Apr. 5/4: The Three Musketeers Alexander Dumas [...] when he got to pushing the pen across the paper he got down to cases right away.
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 2 Apr. 3/1: They probably are pretty sure they can control the legislature if it comes down to cases.
[US]H.L. Wilson Merton of the Movies 194: Listen here, Jeff – I’m down to cases. There’s something about this kid.
[US]T. Wolff In Pharoah’s Army 126: [T]he eagerness to show you that even if they do know how to have a good time they can by God get down to cases too.

2. (US Und.) down to one’s last pennies.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
down to one’s seams

see under seam n.

In exclamations

down with his apple-cart! (also up goes his apple-cart!) [northern dial.; SE phr. down with + apple-cart under apple n.1 ]

knock him down!

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Apple Cart. Down with his Apple cart. Knock or throw him down .
[UK]Era (London) 18 Oct. 5/4: Now then, one two, three, and ‘down goes your apple cart.‘ — Alderman White: What does he mean [...] — The Offcer: He meant your worship that he would knock any man down who stood in his way.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sporting Times 7 Jan. 1/2: Bring me a Hamburg steak, and bring it quick or up goes your apple-cart.