The Meaning of Down to Earth: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been confused by the definition of down to earth? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the phrase down to earth, including its definition, origin, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the phrase down to earth mean?

According to Learning English and Cambridge Unabridged English Language Dictionary, the term down to earth is an idiomatic adjective that is used to describe someone or something that is practical and reasonable. This phrase is most often used to describe people who are level-headed and able to make calm, rational decisions. This person is open, honest, and pleasing to be around. These people do not think that they are above anyone else and treat all people with respect. A down to earth person has common sense. Someone with a down to earth attitude never brags, This is the opposite of a person who has their head in the clouds, which is used to refer to a daydreamer or other such person who is not connected with reality. This type of person is always thinking about their dreams and aspirations and is not connected with the base reality. Many things can be described as down to earth, like a down to earth style, down to earth approach, or down to earth guy. Try using this or other new words in a conversation today.

The phrase down-to-earth also exists in many other languages to describe a person or decision that is practical or realistic. You may notice that a couple of these are direct translations, while others take on a different, less idiomatic meaning. This list of translations for the term down-to-earth is provided by Word Sense.

  • Tagalog: praktikal‎
  • Portuguese: prático‎, pragmático‎
  • Swedish: jordnära‎
  • French: terre à terre‎
  • Japanese: 地に足のついた‎ (chi ni ashi no tsuita)
  • German: bodenständig‎
  • Bulgarian: практичен‎, реалистичен‎
  • Spanish: con los pies en la tierra‎, realista, práctico
  • Chinese – Mandarin: 脚踏实地‎
  • Georgian: ამქვეყნიური‎
  • Finnish: maanläheinen‎
  • Russian: приземлённый‎, практи́чный‎, реалисти́чный‎
  • Icelandic: jarðbundinn‎ (masc.)

What is the origin of the phrase down to earth?

According to Know Your Phrase, the origin of the idiom down to earth is not cut and dry. It was commonly used in the early 20th century to describe a reasonable cost associated with a certain item. For example, the Newark Advocate, a newspaper from 1922, describes the price of womens’ clothing that it is advertising as “down to earth.” This phrase dates back at least a hundred years.

Idioms Online also states that the phrase may allude to celestial beings like angels coming down to Earth, or being cast down to join mortals on Earth. This might also refer to the word ofGod being brought down to Earth for humans to understand and interpret. 

What are synonyms and antonyms for the phrase down to earth?

There are many different words and phrases that one can use in place of the term down to earth. These are known as synonyms which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you want to expand your vocabulary or if you want to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the phrase down to earth is provided by Thesaurus.

  • reasonable
  • shrewd
  • well-thought-out
  • having all one’s marbles
  • canny
  • sage
  • informed
  • cool
  • attentive
  • conversant
  • discerning
  • rational
  • logical
  • discriminating
  • wise
  • together
  • far-sighted
  • sagacious
  • astute
  • commonsensical
  • all there
  • sober
  • realistic
  • intelligent
  • discreet
  • prudent
  • matter-of-fact
  • aware
  • consequent
  • cognizant
  • knowing
  • sentient
  • au courant
  • sound
  • conscious
  • practical
  • sane
  • well-reasoned
  • sensible
  • in right mind
  • judicious
  • witting

There are also many different words and phrases that have the opposite meaning as the phrase down-to-earth. These are known as antonyms, and are very useful to know if you are looking to expand your English vocabulary, particularly if you tend to negate words instead of using antonyms. This list of antonyms for the term down to earth is also provided by Thesaurus

  • absurd
  • nutty
  • disjointed
  • stupid
  • fallacious
  • aberrant
  • demented
  • ridiculous
  • raving
  • foolish
  • senseless
  • sophistic
  • unwise
  • nonsensical
  • mad
  • kooky
  • wacky
  • cockamamie
  • injudicious
  • illogical
  • wrong
  • freaky
  • preposterous
  • unsound
  • loony
  • delirious
  • mindless
  • crazy
  • unstable
  • unthinking
  • insane
  • flaky
  • brainless
  • incoherent
  • irrational
  • specious
  • unreasoning
  • silly
  • reasonless
  • invalid
  • unreasonable
  • wild
  • off-the-wall
  • disconnected
  • distraught
  • head in the clouds

How can the phrase down to earth be used in a sentence?

The phrase down to earth can be used in many different situations to describe someone who is reasonable and rational. This is a very nice way to describe someone. In this example, Jace is describing the person that they went on a date with to their coworker Hannah. 

Hannah: Jace! How was your date?! I know you have been talking for a long time. Did it live up to all of your expectations?

Jace: It really did. They were so, so kind and down to earth. We hung out for like six hours on Saturday, just talking. I’ve never really felt a connection like that before. 

Hannah: Amazing! Do you have plans to see each other again?

Jace: We do! They just happened to have an extra ticket to the concert at the bowl on Friday, so we’re going to go to that together!

Hannah: Ah! I’m so happy for you!

Here, Jace uses the term down to earth to describe their date.

Overall, the phrase down to earth is used to describe a person who is rational, reasonable, and honest This person is very demure and a good communicator. Being described as down to earth is a big compliment.

Sources:

  1. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/down-to-earth
  2. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/irrational
  3. https://www.wordsense.eu/down-to-earth/#English
  4. https://knowyourphrase.com/down-to-earth
  5. https://www.idioms.online/down-to-earth/
  6. https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/words-and-their-stories-down-to-earth/1537335.html#:~:text=Today%20we%20tell%20about%20the,is%20a%20pleasure%20to%20find.&text=A%20down%20to%20earth%20person,who%20acts%20important%20or%20proud.
  7. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/down-to-earth