down but not out

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A reference to the sport of boxing, where a boxer has been incapacitated by an opponent but not yet knocked out.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

down but not out (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Temporarily incapacitated but not permanently defeated.
    • 1907 October, [Hannibal] Hamlin Garland, “Marshall Haney’s Sentence”, in Money Magic: A Novel, New York, N.Y.; London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, OCLC 564111485, page 333:
      He raised dim eyes to her, eyes that seemed already filmed with death's opaque curtains, but bravely, slowly smiled. "I'm down, but not out, darlin'. That brute of a doctor jolted me hard; I nearly took the count—but I'm—still in the ring. []"
    • 1913, The Independent, volume LXXV, New York, N.Y.: Published for the proprietors, OCLC 49529161, page 638, column 1:
      The intention is not to make it a hotel for downs and outs, the riffraff of Chicago’s slums, but to have it a hotel where men who are ‘down’ but not ‘out’ can obtain comfortable rooms and wholesome food at nominal prices.
    • 2010, Peter Snowdon, “The Makings of a Landslide”, in Back from the Brink: The Inside Story of the Tory Resurrection, London: HarperPress, HarperCollins, →ISBN, page 5:
      By midnight, two hours after the polls had closed, the first results showed a massive 10 per cent swing right across the country. [] A defeated David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, left the count down but not out.

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