What Does Bring Someone Down Mean?

Bring Someone Down Meaning

Definition: To put someone in a worse mood than he or she already is, or to ruin someone’s progress.

This phrasal verb means to depress someone with bad news, or cause him or her to worry. The person’s mood is brought down to a more negative state of mind.

Alternatively, it can mean to hurt someone to the point where he or she can’t move forward.

Origin of To Bring Someone Down

bring me downThe phrase was first used when talking about physically injuring someone, and its meaning came from the literal idea of causing someone to fall to the ground in pain. We can see this in an article from a 1904 copy of The Morning Astoria:

  • Nothing happened to me until we were close to the Japanese lines when I got a bullet in my right foot that brought me down.

Similarly, though slightly less literal, was this usage from a political cartoon in the April 1913 edition of The Day Book,

  • “Help me, kind lady,” begged the tramp; “It was not rum that brought me down- ’Twas water, lady, ruined me-”

define bring someone downBy 1915, we can see the first example of the phrase transitioning to mean that someone’s mood can be dampened, and his or her progress thus hindered, in Goodwin’s Weekly: A Thinking Paper for Thinking People:

  • Despair and exposure brought him down with a protracted illness that apparently purged him of all taste or desire for liquor.

Examples of To Bring Someone Down

In the modern day, it is common for people to use both meanings of the phrasal verb.

For example,

  • Stop bringing us down, Joe. Tell us something funny.

This example means Joe is ruining their mood.

  • Attacking his family was the final straw that brought the tyrant down.

This example means the people finally found a way to destroy the tyrant’s progress.

More Examples

  • It really brought me down. I thought – “oh my God! People are jogging around Willamette discussing how my business is going to fail?!?” –Daily North Shore
  • I have battled a lot of things that could have brought me down, vocally and physically. I think it’s been a matter of overcoming a lot of obstacles and also just having good luck and good genes and an inherited voice from my father. –The Huffington Post


To bring someone down is to lower his or her mood or to injure the person to the point of not being able to carry on.