Down the road

Down the road
is an American idiom.  An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying down the road, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Down the road is an idiom that describes something that will happen later, something that will occur in the future. For instance, a young woman may say that she has plans to buy a house down the road, meaning she cannot afford to buy a house now, but she is laying the groundwork to be able to buy a house in the future. The American idiom, down the road, came into use sometime mid-twentieth century. It’s origin is unknown. The phrase down the road seems to allude to traveling the road of life; however, one theory is that the phrase down the road was coined by carnival workers to refer to a later time, when the carnival would pull into the next town on its circuit. Australian English has a similar idiom: down the track.


“If it looks progressively better, he may be able to review his corporation tax decision further down the road.” (Bloomberg News)

A little more than a decade later, the business moved to its new location where it offers dog grooming, doggie day-care, dog obedience, with other services planned down the road. (Mirror)

The engineer who decided to put platinum in catalytic converters was just asking for trouble down the road. (Sioux City Journal)

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