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down (adv.)

"in a descending direction, from a higher to a lower place, degree, or condition," late Old English shortened form of Old English ofdune "downwards," originally of dune "off from (the) hill," from dune "from the hill," dative of dun "hill" (see down (n.2)). The "hill" word is general in Germanic, but this sense development is peculiar to English. As a preposition, "in a descending direction upon or along,"  from late 14c.

To be down on "express disapproval of" is by 1851. Down home is from 1828 as "in one's home region," as an adjective phrase meaning "unpretentious" by 1931, American English. Down the hatch as a toast is from 1931. Down to the wire is 1901, from horse-racing.

Down Under "Australia and New Zealand" attested from 1886; Down East "Maine" is from 1825; Down South "in the Southern states of the U.S." is attested by 1834. Down the road "in the future" is by 1964, U.S. colloquial. Down-to-earth "everyday, ordinary, realistic" is by 1932.

down (n.1)

"first feathers of a baby bird; soft covering of fowls under the feathers, the under-plumage of birds," used for stuffing pillows and feather-beds," mid-14c., from Old Norse dunn, which is of uncertain origin. Extended in Modern English to the sift hair of the human face and fine soft pubescence upon plants and some fruit.

down (n.2)

"a hill of moderate elevation and more or less rounded outline," Old English dun "height, hill, moor," from Proto-Germanic *dunaz- (source also of Middle Dutch dunen "sandy hill," Dutch duin), "probably a pre-insular loan-word from Celtic" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names], in other words, borrowed at a very early period, before the Anglo-Saxon migration, perhaps from PIE root *dheue- "to close, finish, come full circle."

The more general meaning "elevated rolling grassland; high, rolling region not covered by forest" is from c. 1400. Specifically of certain natural pastureland districts of south and southeast England (the Downs) by mid-15c.

The non-English Germanic words tend to mean "dune, sand bank" (see dune), while the Celtic cognates tend to mean "hill, citadel" (compare Old Irish dun "hill, hill fort;" Welsh din "fortress, hill fort;" and second element in place names London, Verdun, etc.). German Düne, French dune, Italian, Spanish duna are said to be loan-words from Dutch.

down (v.)

1560s, "cause to go down," from down (adv.). Meaning "swallow hastily" is by 1860; football sense of "bring down (an opposing player) by tackling" is attested by 1887. Figurative sense of "defeat, get the better of" is by 1898. Related: Downed; downing.

down (adj.)

1560s, "directed downward," from down (adv.). Sense of "depressed mentally" is attested from c. 1600. Slang sense of "aware, wide awake" is attested from 1812. Computer crash sense is from 1965. Down-and-out "completely without resources" is from 1889, American English, from situation of a beaten prizefighter.

down (n.3)

1710, "a downward movement," from down (adv.). Football sense of "an attempt to advance the ball" is by 1882.

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Definitions of down from WordNet
1
down (adj.)
being put out by a strikeout;
two down in the bottom of the ninth
down (adj.)
understood perfectly;
had his algebra problems down
Synonyms: down pat / mastered
down (adj.)
lower than previously;
prices are down
Synonyms: depressed
down (adj.)
extending or moving from a higher to a lower place;
the down staircase
Synonyms: downward
down (adj.)
filled with melancholy and despondency;
Synonyms: gloomy / grim / blue / depressed / dispirited / downcast / downhearted / down in the mouth / low / low-spirited
down (adj.)
becoming progressively lower;
the down trend in the real estate market
down (adj.)
being or moving lower in position or less in some value;
the moon is down
our team is down by a run
the stock market is down today
lay face down
down by a pawn
down (adj.)
shut;
the shades were down
down (adj.)
not functioning (temporarily or permanently);
we can't work because the computer is down
2
down (v.)
drink down entirely;
He downed three martinis before dinner
Synonyms: toss off / pop / bolt down / belt down / pour down / drink down / kill
down (v.)
eat up completely, as with great appetite;
Some people can down a pound of meat in the course of one meal
down (v.)
bring down or defeat (an opponent);
down (v.)
shoot at and force to come down;
Synonyms: shoot down / land
down (v.)
cause to come or go down;
The policeman downed the heavily armed suspect
The mugger knocked down the old lady after she refused to hand over her wallet
Synonyms: knock down / cut down / push down / pull down
down (v.)
improve or perfect by pruning or polishing;
Synonyms: polish / refine / fine-tune
3
down (n.)
soft fine feathers;
Synonyms: down feather
down (n.)
(American football) a complete play to advance the football;
you have four downs to gain ten yards
down (n.)
(usually plural) a rolling treeless highland with little soil;
down (n.)
fine soft dense hair (as the fine short hair of cattle or deer or the wool of sheep or the undercoat of certain dogs);
Synonyms: pile
4
Down (n.)
English physician who first described Down's syndrome (1828-1896);
Synonyms: John L. H. Down
From wordnet.princeton.edu