down


down
Effectively, English now has three distinct words down, but two of them are intimately related: for down ‘to or at a lower place’ [11] originally meant ‘from the hill’ – and the Old English word for hill in this instance was dūn. This may have been borrowed from an unrecorded Celtic word which some have viewed as the ultimate source also of dune [18] (borrowed by English from Middle Dutch dūne) and even of town. Its usage is now largely restricted to the plural form, used as a geographical term for various ranges of hills (the application to the North and South Downs in southern England dates from at least the 15th century). The Old English phrase of dūne ‘from the hill’ had by the 10th century become merged into a single word, adūne, and broadened out semantically to ‘to a lower place, down’, and in the 11th century it started to lose its first syllable – hence down. Its use as a preposition dates from the 16th century. (The history of down is closely paralleled in that of French à val, literally ‘to the valley’, which also came to be used for ‘down’; it is the source of French avaler ‘descend, swallow’, which played a part in the development of avalanche.) Down ‘feathers’ [14] was borrowed from Old Norse dúnn. => DUNE
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   The word has its origin in Old English dun, 'hill' (as in the downs that are hills or upland today). To go down, you first need to be up, as on a hill.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Down — Down, adv. [For older adown, AS. ad[=u]n, ad[=u]ne, prop., from or off the hill. See 3d {Down}, and cf. {Adown}, and cf. {Adown}.] 1. In the direction of gravity or toward the center of the earth; toward or in a lower place or position; below;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Down on — Down Down, adv. [For older adown, AS. ad[=u]n, ad[=u]ne, prop., from or off the hill. See 3d {Down}, and cf. {Adown}, and cf. {Adown}.] 1. In the direction of gravity or toward the center of the earth; toward or in a lower place or position;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Down — may refer to: Relative direction, where down is the direction towards the centre of gravity of a celestial object. Railroad directions, where down and up have locally significant meanings Down feather, a soft bird feather frequently used in… …   Wikipedia

  • down — down1 [doun] adv. [ME doun < adune, adown < OE adune, ofdune, from the hill < a , of , off, from + dune, dat. of dun, hill: see DOWN3] 1. from a higher to a lower place; toward the ground 2. in, on, or to a lower position or level;… …   English World dictionary

  • Down in It — Single by Nine Inch Nails from the album Pretty Hate Machine Released …   Wikipedia

  • Down — /down/, n. 1. a county in SW Northern Ireland. 311,876; 952 sq. mi. (2466 sq. km). Co. seat: Downpatrick. 2. an administrative district in this county. 49,500; 253 sq. mi. (654 sq. km). * * * I District (pop., 1999 est.: 63,800), Northern Ireland …   Universalium

  • Down In It — Single par Nine Inch Nails extrait de l’album Pretty Hate Machine Sortie 15 septembre 1989 Enregistrement 1989 Durée 17:45 Genre(s) Metal industriel …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Down in it — Single par Nine Inch Nails extrait de l’album Pretty Hate Machine Sortie 15 septembre 1989 Enregistrement 1989 Durée 17:45 Genre(s) Metal industriel …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Down in It — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda «Down in It» Sencillo de Nine Inch Nails del álbum Pretty Hate Machine Publicación 15 de septiembre de 1989 Formato CD, 12 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Down in It — Single par Nine Inch Nails extrait de l’album Pretty Hate Machine Sortie 15 septembre 1989 Enregistrement 1989 Durée 17:45 Genre Metal industriel …   Wikipédia en Français

  • down — Ⅰ. down [1] ► ADVERB 1) towards or in a lower place or position. 2) to or at a lower level or value. 3) so as to lie flush or flat. 4) in or into a weaker or worse position, mood, or condition. 5) to a smaller amount or size, or a simpler or more …   English terms dictionary