Down in the Dumps – Idiom, Origin and Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Idioms, colloquialisms, and strange phases. The English language is full of them. But sometimes their origins and original intentions get lost in translation, so it’s essential to broaden your knowledge and learn the meaning behind certain phrases, like “down in the dumps.” Let’s take a look at this idiom and see just how you should be using it.

Down in the Dumps Meaning Explained

Down in the Dumps Idiom Origin Meaning

“Down in the dumps” is classified as an idiomatic phrase, and we use it to show a state of unhappiness or even light depression. You’ll probably see it commonly used to describe someone feeling low or emotionally deflated, with the culprit being anything from waking up on the wrong side of the bed to dealing with bad news.

A great example is me. Like a lot of others, I suffer from mild seasonal depression. When the colder, darker months come around, I tend to feel sad for literally no reason. So, I always say I’m just down in the dumps.

Down in the Dumps Origin

To understand the origin of the phrase “down in the dumps,” we need to go back to the 1500s and take a look at how Shakespeare used it. He mentioned the phrase several times in his work “The Taming of the Shrew,” like in this excerpt, “Why, how now, daughter Katharina! In your dumps?”

Sir Winston Churchill also used the phrase to describe being disheartened but changed the phrase to say “black dog.”

Synonyms for Down in the Dumps

Sometimes, certain words and phrases simply don’t fit in the vibe of what you’re writing or saying. That’s where synonyms come in! Try any of these words and phrases in place of “down in the dumps.”

  • Feeling blue.
  • Under the weather.
  • In low spirits.
  • Sad.
  • Despondent.
  • Depressed.
  • Disheartened.
  • Miserable.
  • Glum.

Down in the Dumps Examples in a Sentence

Down in the Dumps Idiom Origin Meaning 1

Seeing words and phrases in the full context of a sentence always helps us understand them better.

  • After losing the job she’d worked at for twenty years, my mother has been down in the dumps for weeks.
  • The weather has been so gloomy this winter that it’s hard not to feel down in the dumps all the time.
  • Mary was down in the dumps after her favorite team lost the championship game she’d been excited for.
  • Ever since the breakup with Cindy, Dave’s been down in the dumps and doesn’t even want to socialize with his friends.
  • When the holidays are over, I know many people who find themselves down in the dumps because all the fun and joy seem to have come to an end.
  • Why do you seem so down in the dumps today? Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?
  • I was proud of my son for getting a B+ on his math test, but he was down in the dumps about it because he’s so used to getting straight A marks.

Are You Down in the Dumps?

So, there you have it, folks! The next time you feel blue or notice someone looking a little sad, you can confidently use the phrase “down in the dumps.” It’s a popular idiom that’s been around for centuries and can be applied to any situation where someone feels sad.