What Does Let Someone Down Mean?

Let Someone Down Meaning

Definition: To disappoint someone; to fail someone who is depending on you.

A related term is the noun phrase let down. A let down is anything that is disappointing or not as expected.

An unrelated expression is let someone down easy. This phrase refers to breaking up with someone in a relationship in such a way that they are not devastated of overly sad.

Origin of Let Someone Down

Some sources say that this expression dates all the way back to the 1400s.

To understand the meaning behind it, think of someone who has high hopes for you. If you fail to do what that person hopes, they will have low expectations for you in the future, or a low opinion of you. In other words, their respect and belief in you will have decreased.

This expression is one of many that uses down for something negative and up or high for something positive.

When this expression appears in the negative form, it often is also in the imperative form: don’t let me (or her, him, or another object pronoun) down.

Examples of Let Someone Down

let down definition

In this example, a woman is telling her friend that she will help him.

Neha: I heard that you had a fight with your girlfriend.

Tyrese: Yeah, I said something I shouldn’t have. I’m not sure she’ll ever forgive me.

Neha: I think she will. Let me talk to her about it. I think I can convince her to give you another chance.

Tyrese: Okay, but don’t make things worse. Promise me that you won’t let me down.

Neha: I promise.

let down meaningIn this example, two office workers are talking about a problem that one of them is having at home.

Barry: My wife and I always fight about the bills. She said that I wasn’t responsible enough. I told her that she could trust me to help out financially, so we agreed that I would pay all of the bills last month.

Rachel: And how did that go?

Barry: Terribly! I completely forgot to do it. You should have seen my wife’s face. She was so disappointed in me. I really let her down.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about a historic football game.

  • “He came off screaming at the offense, ‘Don’t let me down, don’t let me down.’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m not going to let him down, that’s for sure,” Mercein says. “He was a ferocious guy. It was like an aberration. –New York Daily News

This excerpt is from an article about baseball.

  • “At that point, I talked to him before getting the at-bat: ‘This is your moment,'” Correa said. “And he didn’t let me down. He hit a homer and got us going.” –Houston Chronicle


The phrase let someone down is an expression that means to fail to do what someone hopes or trusts that you will do.