Discussion Forum

Please consider registering
guest

Log In Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —

  

— Match —

   

— Forum Options —

   

Wildcard usage:
*  matches any number of characters    %  matches exactly one character

Minimum search word length is 4 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

Topic RSS
Low Down vs. Down Low
Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
2014/01/05
10:17am
deaconB
Member
Forum Posts: 211
Member Since:
2013/10/18
Offline
1
0

I don't think i heard anyone say "Keep this on the down low" before the 1970s.  Is that when the idiom arose, or was  I merely ignorant?  I was hearng "the low down" from forever.

The folks at the sex capitol of the world, Bloomngton, Indiana, say there is a sexual meaning to that idiom, to whicI had been previously unaware (http://kinseyconfidential.org/down-low/)

Both "Keep this on the down low, but…" "What the low down on Bill's new girlfriend?" suggest speaking at low volumes, but "It's a low down dirty shame" seems to totally unrelated.

What's the story here, on the genesis of "low diwn" and "down low"?

 

2014/01/05
2:20pm
JohnS
Member
Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
2013/11/24
Offline
2
0

I think a lot of the slang and slang phrases that are now in common usage throughout the country were sort of regional usages (and limited in range), but later became popularized into mainstream language through books, TV, movies, music etc. In the case of "low down" as an adjective, I suspect it comes from the South.

"low down" as in "That was a very low down thing to do" indicates a cruel, heartless, insensitive or inhumane action, as in low standards of morality. 

So if a poor family is evicted in the middle of the winter, that's a low down, dirty shame. If I get struck by lighting, that's just a shame, and maybe a tragic end. It wouldn't be low down because it's no one's fault.

"What's the low down on Bill's new girlfriend?" Then "low down" sort of functions like a noun, right? Meaning the most basic or most essential facts and information.

 

 

 

2014/01/05
6:46pm
Bob Bridges
USA
Member
Forum Posts: 676
Member Since:
2010/08/14
Offline
3
0

It was on Law & Order that I first heard of a sexual meaning for "down low"; black men who were "on the down-low" were having sexual relations with each other, although they stoutly maintained that they were not homosexual.  I suppose they insisted that because they thought of themselves as manly friends, not fairies; but I'm only guessing.  Outside of that one episode I've never heard that sense of the term, and I suspect that its equation with "QT" is just a confusion or corruption of "low-down".

I couldn't swear whether or not "low-down" in the other two senses—the adjective meaning "contemptible" and the noun meaning "reliable gossip, "bottom line"—are related.  Maybe the adjective is older and the noun started as gossip (the worst thing someone could say about a low-down scoundrel) and took on the other meaning.  But that's strictly guessing.  And the Online Etymology Dictionary says originally "lowdown" meant "humble", back in the late 1800s, so my guess looks pretty doubtful.

2014/01/18
7:49am
torpeau
Left coast of FL
Member
Forum Posts: 79
Member Since:
2009/07/13
Offline
4
0

I saw that same episode of L&O and had never heard of that before either.  I think I have heard similar references since then, but none that explained it so fully.

Forum Timezone: America/Los_Angeles

Most Users Ever Online: 1147

Currently Online:
10 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

Heimhenge: 752

Bob Bridges: 676

Ron Draney: 624

RobertB: 427

tromboniator: 373

Robert: 368

Dick: 358

samaphore: 319

dilettante: 287

Raffee: 238

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 605

Members: 2997

Moderators: 1

Admins: 5

Forum Stats:

Groups: 1

Forums: 1

Topics: 3105

Posts: 16341

Newest Members: katma, wordwonderer, Abbyabi098, Gilliflower, jodymask, ernestomalley, SnorePhat, vernal, ToddThompson, niamhk

Moderators: Grant Barrett (1420)

Administrators: Martha Barnette (828), Grant Barrett (1420), EmmettRedd (620), Glenn (1585), timfelten (0)