"insult, snub," 1962, from verbal phrase put down "to snub," attested from c. 1400 in this sense, earlier (c. 1300) "to lower, let down," also (mid-14c.) "to throw down, reject;" see put (v.) + down (adv.). To put (something) down "end by force or authority" (a rebellion, etc.) is from mid-14c. Compare set-down "a rebuff, a scolding" (1780).
also shakedown, 1730, "impromptu bed made upon loose straw," from the verbal phrase; see shake (v.) + down (adv.). The verbal phrase shake down is attested from late 14c. as "shake into place, compact by shaking" also "cause to totter and fall." The meaning "forced contribution" (1902) is from the verbal phrase in a slang sense of "blackmail, extort" (1872). Meaning "a thorough search" is from 1914; perhaps from the notion of measuring corn; the verbal sense of "to frisk or search" is by 1915 in police reporting.
to win something hands down (1855) is from horse racing, from a jockey's gesture of letting the reins go loose in an easy victory.
The Two Thousand Guinea Stakes was not the best contested one that it has been our fortune to assist at. ... [T]hey were won by Meteor, with Scott for his rider; who went by the post with his hands down, the easiest of all easy half-lengths. Wiseacre certainly did the best in his power to spoil his position, and Misdeal was at one time a little vexatious. [The Sportsman, report from April 26, 1840]
Ancient Greek had akoniti "without a struggle, easily," from akonitos (adj.), literally "without dust," specifically "without the dust of the arena."