Dumb down

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The term to dumb down was first used in the 1930s. We will examine the definition of the term dumb down, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The term dumb down means to make something simpler, to put something in simpler words or to advance an idea in intellectually simple terms so that the widest audience will understand it. To dumb down is a phrasal verb, related words are dumbs down, dumbed down, dumbing down. The adjective form, used before a noun, is the hyphenated term dumbed-down, the noun form is dumbing down. The term to dumb down has an interesting origin story. It was first used by script writers in Hollywood in the early to mid-1930s, to describe the process of revising a movie script so that it would appeal to even the most uneducated or unintelligent ticket buyers. To say that something that has been dumbed down may be an insult to the consumer of that thing, whether it is a book, movie or political idea.


If you have to dumb down your resume or play a part on a job interview to get hired, you know one thing — that manager doesn’t deserve your talents! (Forbes Magazine)

The Lebanese restaurant offers the best Middle Eastern food in South County because it doesn’t dumb down the menu for anyone. (The Orange County Weekly)

So when I sat down in a makeup artist’s chair at an Artis event a few weeks ago, I was determined to leave with her most basic, dumbed-down, 100-percent-can’t-mess-up contouring trick. (Glamour Magazine)

Cordier told the commissioners this week that he feared that the poor performance on the tests possibly presaged a general dumbing-down of the area’s workforce. (The Albany Democrat-Herald)