Let Your Hair Down – Idiom, Meaning and Origin

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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.

To let your hair down means to relax, to behave more freely than usual, and to express yourself without any sort of restraint. It’s Friday night. The week was exhausting, and you decide to let your hair down with some close friends at a karaoke bar. That’s letting your hair down.

Idioms are popular phrases or common expressions with a meaning that’s not tied to literal intents. Let your hair down paints a picture and even evokes a certain feeling, but it really has nothing to do with your ponytail.

This quick guide details everything you need to know about this idiom’s meaning, origin, and correct usage, so read up and learn how to use it!

Let Your Hair Down Meaning Explained

Let Your Hair Down – Idiom Meaning and Origin

To let your hair down is an idiom that means to relax, be yourself, and set aside formality or restraint. Historically, unpinning one’s hair signified trust and comfort, given that societal norms often dictated hair be kept pinned up, particularly for women.

Just imagine yourself coming home from a long day at the office. You take off your heels, hang up your blazer, and let down your hair. It’s that feeling where you’re comfortable and relaxed enough to let loose and maybe even express yourself in a fun way.

Let Your Hair Down Origin

Let Your Hair Down Ngram
Let your hair down usage trend.

The origin of the phrase let your hair down dates back to the 17th century. During this period, women in the upper classes wore their hair in extremely elaborate hairdos, replete with feathers or flowers and towering two feet and more in height. When at home, these women could let their hair down or relax in a more natural way.

During the 1600s, this was called disheveling, or wearing one’s hair in a more natural or even messy manner. The idea of literally letting one’s hair down persisted into the early 1900s, as women continued to grow their hair long and pin it up in public. This changed in the 1920s when women began to bob their hair.

An early instance of it in print can be found in The English Treasury of Wit and Language by John Cotgrave in 1655, “Descheveler, to discheuell; to pull the haire about the eares.”

Let Your Hair Down Synonyms

  • Loosen up
  • Cut loose
  • Blow off steam
  • Unwind
  • Relax
  • Kick back

Examples of Let Your Hair Down in a Sentence

Let Your Hair Down – Idiom Meaning and Origin 1

  • After a week of tight deadlines, the team decided to let their hair down at a local pub.
  • Reading is how I let my hair down after a long day of writing.
  • I hope this retreat will be a chance for everyone to let their hair down so they can return to the office refreshed.
  • Come on, let your hair down, and sing with us! It’s just karaoke!
  • On vacations, she always finds unique places to let her hair down.
  • This is a no-judgment zone; let your hair down and speak your mind.
  • Some evenings, a good book, and a cup of tea are all I need to let my hair down.
  • Occasionally, letting your hair down is crucial for mental health.
  • The weekend is here; it’s time to let our hair down!

Crowning Thoughts

The idiom let your hair down is yet another sprinkle of fun in the English language. It reminds me why I love idioms so much. Whether you have a pixie cut or Rapunzel-esque tresses, this phrase is about genuine expression. Check out my other breakdowns like this one, and let your hair down with idioms!