use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

down 1 (doun)
Share:
adv.
1.
a. From a higher to a lower place or position: hiked down from the peak.
b. Toward, to, or on the ground, floor, or bottom: tripped and fell down.
c. Downstairs: Let's go down and get some breakfast.
d. In or into a sitting, kneeling, or reclining position: knelt down; lying down.
e. In or into one's stomach: had trouble keeping his food down; washed down the pizza with soda.
f. In writing or a record: The reporter wrote the statement down. He's down as the best goal-scorer of his time.
g. In partial payment at the time of purchase: put $250 down on the new refrigerator.
h. Into or toward a secure position: nailed down the boards; bolted the furniture down.
2.
a. Toward or in the south; southward: flew down to Florida.
b. Away from a place considered central or a center of activity, such as a city or town: down on the farm; sent down to work at the firm's regional office.
c. To a specific location or source: tracking a rumor down.
3.
a. Toward or at a low or lower point on a scale: from the biggest down to the smallest.
b. From earlier times or people: tradition handed down from one generation to the next.
4.
a. To or at a lower intensity or amount: turned the volume down; prices going down.
b. To or in a reduced or concentrated form: pared the term paper down to five pages.
c. To or in a quiescent or subdued state: calmed down.
d. In or into an inactive or inoperative state: The generators went down at midnight.
e. To or into a lower or inferior condition, as of subjection, defeat, or disgrace: people kept down for decades.
5.
a. To an extreme degree; heavily: worn down by worry.
b. Seriously or vigorously: get down to the project at hand.
adj.
1.
a. Moving or directed downward: a down elevator.
b. Low or lower: Stock prices were down today.
c. Reduced; diminished: The wind is down.
d. Sports & Games Trailing an opponent: a team down 20 points in the last quarter; down two pawns in chess.
2.
a. Afflicted; sick: She's down with a bad cold.
b. Malfunctioning or not operating, especially temporarily: The computer is down.
c. Low in spirits; depressed: feeling down today.
3. Football
a. Not in play and at the place where offensive forward progress has stopped: The ball is down on the 50-yard line.
b. Not permitted to advance further in the play because forward progress has stopped, especially by being tackled. Used of a ball carrier.
4. Baseball Retired; out: two down in the last of the ninth.
5.
a. Completed; done: three exams down, two to go.
b. Learned or known perfectly: had the algebra problems down.
prep.
1.
a. In a descending direction along, upon, into, or through: rolled down the hill; floating down the river; flowed down the pipe.
b. In a sequential or temporal sequence: knowledge passed down the ages.
2. Along the course of: walking down the street.
3. In or at: The cans are stored down cellar.
n.
1.
a. A downward movement; descent: the downs of the rollercoaster ride.
b. A feeling of sadness or depression: His frequent downs made him hard to live with.
c. A misfortune or difficulty: went through a lot of ups and downs before succeeding.
2. Football Any of a series of four plays in American football or three plays in Canadian football during which a team must advance at least ten yards to retain possession of the ball.
v. downed, down·ing, downs
v.tr.
1. To bring, put, strike, or throw down: downed his opponent in the first round.
2. To swallow hastily; gulp: downed the glass of water.
3. Football To put (the ball) out of play by touching it to the ground or stepping out of bounds.
v.intr.
To go or come down; descend.
Idioms:
down on
Informal Hostile or negative toward; ill-disposed to: was down on jogging after his injury.
down on (one's) luck
Afflicted by misfortune.
down with
1. Used to express disapproval of someone or a wish to see someone removed from a position of authority: Down with the king!
2. Slang
a. Being in support of or agreement with something: "He was not, I detected, 'down with the revolution'" (Clarence Page).
b. Knowledgeable or aware of the latest trends or developments: a hipster who is down with the newest fads.

[Middle English doun, from Old English -dūne (as in ofdūne, downwards), from dūne, dative of dūn, hill; see dheuə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
down 2 (doun)
Share:
n.
1. Fine, soft, fluffy feathers forming the first plumage of a young bird and underlying the contour feathers in certain adult birds.
2. Botany A covering of soft, short hairs, as on some leaves or fruit.
3. A soft, silky, or feathery substance, such as the first growth of a human beard.

[Middle English doun, from Old Norse dūnn.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
down 3 (doun)
Share:
n.
1. often downs An expanse of rolling upland, often treeless, grassy, and used for grazing.
2. often Down Any of several breeds of sheep having short wool, originally bred in the Downs of southern England.

[Middle English doune, from Old English dūn, hill; see dheuə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.