Etymology
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low-life (adj.)

"disreputable, vulgar," 1794, from low (adj.) + life (n.). As a noun, also lowlife, "coarse, no-good person," from 1911. Low-lived (adj.) is attested from 1760.

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low-profile (adj.)

1957, in reference to automobile wheels, from low (adj.) + profile (n.). General sense is by 1970 in American English, apparently first in reference to Nixon Administration policy of partial U.S. disengagement from burdensome commitments abroad.

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cross-beam (n.)

"large beam going from wall to wall; girder which holds the sides of a building or ship together," c. 1400, from cross- + beam (n.).

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I-beam (n.)

1869; see beam (n.). So called for its shape. I-bar is from 1890; also I-rail (1873).

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low-down (adj.)

also low down, lowdown, "vulgar, far down the social scale," 1888, from low (adj.) + down (adv.). Earlier it had meant "humble" (1540s). As a noun, 1915, from the adjective, American English. Low-downer was late 19c. American English colloquial for "poor white; rude, mean person."

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low-key (adj.)

by 1895, perhaps 1847, from low key in some sense relating to deep musical tone or quiet sound; see low (adj.) + key (n.1). Low key in reference to a quiet voice is attested from 1837. Also compare undertone.

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low-class (adj.)

1868, from low (adj.) + class (n.). Earlier were low-born (c. 1200), low-bred (1757).

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low-minded (adj.)

"lacking lofty or noble aspirations," c. 1740, see low (adj.)) + -minded.

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low-budget (adj.)

1939, originally of motion pictures, "made with little expense;" from low (adj.) + budget (n.). Usually with a suggestion of low quality as a result.

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low-rise (adj.)

of buildings, 1957, in contrast to high-rise; see low (adv.) + rise (v.).

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