downcast

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English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

A woman with downcast eyes (adjective sense 1).

The adjective is derived from Middle English doun-casten, *adoun-casten ((adjective) cast down, dejected; (verb) to break down (something); to overcome (someone); to overturn (something)), from down (in a downward direction; (figurative) to destruction),[1] adoun (downward)[2] + casten (to throw (something), fling, hurl; to overcome (someone), defeat, overpower; [etc.])[3] (from Old Norse kasta (to cast, throw), from Proto-Germanic *kastōną (to throw), from *kas- (to throw, toss; to bring up); further etymology uncertain), modelled similarly to other constructions in Middle English such as adoun-throwen (to throw down) and adoun-werpen (to throw down)). The English word is analysable as down- (prefix meaning ‘lower direction or position’) +‎ cast (that has been thrown, adjective).[4]

The noun is derived from the adjective.[5]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

downcast (comparative more downcast, superlative most downcast)

  1. Of the eyes, a facial expression, etc.: looking downwards, usually as a sign of discouragement, sadness, etc., or sometimes modesty.
    • 1582, Virgil, “The Third Booke of Virgil His Aeneis”, in Richard Stanyhurst, transl., The First Foure Bookes of Virgils Æneis, [], London: Henrie Bynneman [], published 1583, →OCLC; republished as The First Four Books of the Æneid of Virgil, [], Edinburgh: [Edinburgh Printing Company], 1836, →OCLC, page 80:
      Briefly then heere Dido, with downe caſt phiſnomie, parled.
    • [1633], George Herbert, “The Church Militant”, in [Nicholas Ferrar], editor, The Temple: Sacred Poems, and Private Ejaculations, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: [] Thomas Buck and Roger Daniel; and are to be sold by Francis Green, [], →OCLC; reprinted London: Elliot Stock, [], 1885, →OCLC, page 186:
      [A]s before Empire and Arts made vvay, / (For no leſſe Harbingers vvould ſerve then they) / So they might ſtill, and point us out the place / VVhere firſt the Church ſhould raiſe her dovvn-caſt face.
    • 1681, John Dryden, “Canace to Macareus”, in Ovid, Ovid’s Epistles, [], 2nd edition, London: [] Jacob Tonson [], →OCLC, page 10:
      'Tis Love, ſaid ſhe; and then my dovvn-caſt eyes, / And guilty dumbneſs, vvitneſs'd my ſurprize.
    • 1718, Mat[thew] Prior, “Solomon on the Vanity of the World. A Poem in Three Books.”, in Poems on Several Occasions, London: [] Jacob Tonson [], and John Barber [], →OCLC, page 502:
      VVhile Thy abandon'd Tribes ſhall only knovv / A diff'rent Maſter, and a Change of VVoe: / VVith dovvn-caſt Eye-lids, and vvith Looks a-ghaſt, / Shall dread the Future, or bevvail the Paſt.
    • a. 1722, Matthew Prior, “A Pastoral. To Dr. [Francis] Turner, Bishop of Ely, on His Departure from Cambridge.”, in The Poetical Works of Matthew Prior [], volume II, London: [] W[illiam] Strahan, [], published 1779, →OCLC, page 107:
      Suppreſs your ſigh, your dovvn-caſt eyelids raiſe, / VVhom preſent you revere, him abſent praiſe.
    • 1743, Henry Fielding, “The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great. Chapter VIII. In which Our Hero Carries Greatness to an Immoderate Height.”, in Miscellanies, [], volume III, London: [] A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC, book II, page 151:
      [T]hat dovvn-caſt Countenance vvhich betrays the Man, vvho, after a ſtrong Conflict betvveen Virtue and Vice, hath ſurrendered his Mind to the latter, and is diſcovered in his firſt Treachery; []
    • 1843 December 19, Charles Dickens, “Stave Two. The First of the Three Spirits.”, in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, [], →OCLC, page 69:
      And yet I should have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips; to have questioned her, that she might have opened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush; []
    • 1887, John Ruskin, “The Simplon”, in Præterita. Outlines of Scenes and Thoughts Perhaps Worthy of Memory in My Past Life, volume II, Orpington, Kent: George Allen, →OCLC, page 174:
      But Gordon's downcast mien did not change; and I had to admit myself, when supper-time came, that one might almost as hopelessly have sopped the Matterhorn as the loaf.
  2. Of a person or thing: cast or thrown to the ground.
    • 1600 or 1601 (date written), I. M. [i.e., John Marston], Antonios Reuenge. The Second Part. [], London: [] [Richard Bradock] for Thomas Fisher, and are to be soulde [by Matthew Lownes] [], published 1602, →OCLC, Act V, scene vi, signature K4, recto:
      VVhere liues all vvoe? conduct him to vs three, / The dovvne-caſt ruines of calamitie.
    • 1691, N[ahum] Tate, A Poem, Occasioned by His Majesty’s Voyage to Holland, the Congress at the Hague, and Present Siege of Mons, London: [] Richard Baldwin, [], →OCLC, page 9:
      [] Dovvncaſt Lucifer revolves his State, / VVith his fall'n Angels ſits in Dark Debate, / And from This Conſtellation bodes his Fate.
  3. Of a thing: directed downwards.
  4. (figurative)
    1. Of a person: feeling despondent or discouraged.
    2. Of a person or thing: defeated, overthrown; also, destroyed, ruined.
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

downcast (plural downcasts)

  1. (geology, obsolete) Synonym of downthrow (a depression of the strata on one side of a fault; also, the degree of downward displacement in such a fault)
    Antonyms: upcast, upthrow
    a downcast dyke

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English downcast (misfortune),[1] adoun-cast (destruction, overthrow),[6] from adoun (downward)[2] + cast (a throw, a cast)[7] (from Old Norse kast (a throw), from kasten (to cast, throw)), from Middle English casten adoun: see etymology 1. The English word is analysable as down- (prefix meaning ‘lower direction or position’) +‎ cast (act of throwing, noun).[5]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

downcast (countable and uncountable, plural downcasts)

  1. (countable) An act of looking downwards, usually as a sign of discouragement, sadness, etc., or sometimes modesty; hence (uncountable, archaic), dejection, melancholy.
  2. (countable, archaic)
    1. An act, or the situation, of being cast or thrown to the ground.
    2. (figurative) A defeat, an overthrow; also, an act of destruction or ruin.
  3. (countable, computing) A cast (change of expression of a data type) from supertype to subtype.
    Antonym: upcast
  4. (countable, mining, chiefly attributive) A ventilating shaft down which air passes in circulating through a mine.
Translations[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English doun-casten, *adoun-casten (to cast or throw (something) downwards; to break down (something); to overcome (someone); to overturn (something)), from down (in a downward direction; (figurative) to destruction), adoun (downward) + casten (to throw (something), fling, hurl; to overcome (someone), defeat, overpower; [etc.]): see etymology 1. The English word is analysable as down- (prefix meaning ‘lower direction or position’) +‎ cast (to throw, verb).[8]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

downcast (third-person singular simple present downcasts, present participle downcasting, simple past and past participle downcast or downcasted) (transitive)

  1. To turn (the eyes) downwards, usually as a sign of discouragement, sadness, etc., or sometimes modesty.
  2. To cast or throw (something) downwards; also, to drop or lower (something).
    • 1838 October, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Midnight Mass for the Dying Year”, in Voices of the Night, Cambridge, Mass.: [] John Owen, published 1839, →OCLC, stanza 12, page 30:
      For there shall come a mightier blast, / There shall be a darker day; / And the stars, from heaven down-cast, / Like red leaves be swept away!
  3. To demolish or tear down (a building, etc.).
  4. (figurative) To make (someone) feel despondent or discouraged; to discourage, to sadden.
    Synonym: cast down
  5. (computing) To cast (change the expression of) (a data type) from supertype to subtype.
    Antonym: upcast
  6. (Scotland) To reproach or upbraid (someone); also, to taunt (someone).
  7. (obsolete) To depose or overthrow (a leader, an institution, etc.); also (sometimes reflexive), to bring down (oneself or someone) from an exalted position; to humble.
    Synonym: cast down
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 “[doun]caste” under “dǒun, adv.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 adǒun, adv.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  3. ^ casten, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. ^ downcast, adj. and n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2023; “downcast, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  5. 5.0 5.1 downcast, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023; “downcast, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  6. ^ adǒun-cast, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  7. ^ cast, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  8. ^ downcast, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023.

Anagrams[edit]