What Does Bring Someone Down to Earth Mean?

Bring Someone Down to Earth Meaning

Definition: To make someone think or behave more realistically.

If someone is too optimistically unrealistic, or is daydreaming about things they may never have or things that might never happen, it is said that they have their “head in the clouds.” When someone points out the, often harsh, reality, the person is said to come “down to earth,” and see things for how they really are and not how they want them to be.

It may also mean to kill a happy mood with some unsettling information.

Origin of To Bring Someone Down to Earth

bring down to earth synonymsThis phrase originated in the mid- to late- 1800s, starting, as many do, in a very literal sense, and becoming more idiomatic over the years. One of the earliest examples can be seen in The Evening Telegraph from 1870, which, while metaphorical, speaks directly of bringing someone down from a higher place:

  • When he tries-which he rarely does-to fly above the “personal” atmosphere which is so congenial, it seems as if there was a string tied to his leg, which is sure, after certain grotesque evolutions in the upper air, to bring him down to earth again.

By 1899, as seen in an Evening Times from that year, the phrase’s meaning has expanded to include unrealistic ideas:

  • Unless something can be done before he is elected Speaker to bring him down to earth, the House will wake up to find that is has caught a worse Tartar than Reed.

Examples of To Bring Someone Down to Earth

bringing heaven down to earthIn the modern day, people use bring down to earth as an equivalent to saying someone needs  a reality check, as in, “Leslie needs to be brought down to earth. She’s going on and on about the expensive life she’s going to lead, and she doesn’t even have a job.”

More Examples:

  • But scoring the role of Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean brought her down to earth with a thud. “I didn’t like the experience.” –The Independent
  • She said in that interview the experience quickly brought her down to earth when she saw other people out of work in worse situations than hers. –BBC News


When one opens their eyes to the reality of the situation after daydreaming about it or being in an overly happy mood, it is said they are brought down to earth.