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From Middle English dounright, dounriȝt, equivalent to down- +‎ right.



downright (comparative more downright, superlative most downright)

  1. (obsolete) Directed vertically; coming straight down.
    • c. 1591–1592 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i]:
      Lord Stafford’s father, Duke of Buckingham,
      Is either slain or wounded dangerously;
      I cleft his beaver with a downright blow:
    • 1611, John Donne, An Anatomy of the World[1], London: Samuel Macham:
      We thinke the heavens enjoy their Sphericall
      Their round proportion embracing all.
      But yet their various and perplexed course,
      Observ’d in divers ages doth enforce
      Men to finde out so many Eccentrique parts,
      Such divers downe-right lines, such overthwarts,
      As disproportion that pure forme. []
  2. Directly to the point; plain
    Synonyms: unambiguous, unevasive
    • 1727, [Daniel Defoe], chapter 3, in A System of Magick; or, A History of the Black Art. [], London: [] J. Roberts [], →OCLC, page 314:
      [] three Nights together he dreamt that he saw a Neighbouring Gentleman kissing his Mistress, and in downright English, lying with her.
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XVIII, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 237:
      Her husband was evidently a sensible man, and he might have given his wife a little more sense than she could have derived from her downright father and her silly mother-in-law, who were really as great a pair of noodles as ever were exhibited in the pages of a modern novel, under the cognomen of "amiable rustics."
    • 1907, George Witton, chapter 5, in Scapegoats of the Empire: The True Story of Breaker Morant’s Bushveldt Carbineers[2]:
      There were miners from Klondyke, hunters from the backwoods, troopers from the Northwest Frontier Police, and included were some of the “hardest cases” that the land of the maple leaf ever produced; these were past-masters in the use of unique expletives, and for downright and original profanity it would hardly be possible to find their equal.
    • 1920, Annie Shepley Omori and Kochi Doi, Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Translator’s Note,[3]
      English words and thought seem too downright a medium into which to render these evanescent, half-expressed sentences and poems—vague as the misty mountain scenery of her country, with no pronouns at all, and without verb inflections.
  3. Using plain direct language; accustomed to express opinions directly and bluntly; blunt.
    • 1776, Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, London: W. Strahan & T. Cadell, Volume 1, Book 2, Chapter 2, p. 396,[4]
      It bears the evident marks of having originally been, what the honest and downright Doctor Douglass assures us it was, a scheme of fraudulent debtors to cheat their creditors.
    • 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter 4, in Emma: [], volumes (please specify |volume=I, II or III), London: [] [Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, →OCLC:
      There is an openness, a quickness, almost a bluntness in Mr. Weston, which every body likes in him, because there is so much good-humour with it—but that would not do to be copied. Neither would Mr. Knightley’s downright, decided, commanding sort of manner, though it suits him very well; his figure, and look, and situation in life seem to allow it; but if any young man were to set about copying him, he would not be sufferable.
    • 1941, Emily Carr, chapter 3, in Klee Wyck[5]:
      The twisted trees and high tossed driftwood hinted that Skedans could be as thoroughly fierce as she was calm. She was downright about everything.
  4. Complete; absolute
    Synonym: utter
    • 1650, Thomas Browne, chapter I, in Pseudodoxia Epidemica: [], 2nd edition, London: [] A[braham] Miller, for Edw[ard] Dod and Nath[aniel] Ekins, [], →OCLC, 3rd book, page 5:
      For although in that ancient and diffused adoration of Idols, unto the Priests and subtiler heads, the worship perhaps might be symbolicall, and as those Images some way related unto their deities; yet was the Idolatry direct and down-right in the people [] who may be made beleeve that any thing is God [] .
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, chapter 3, in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC, book 15, page 132:
      ‘I see his Design,’ said she, ‘for he made downright Love to me Yesterday Morning; but as I am resolved never to admit it []
    • 1879, Robert Louis Stevenson, chapter 1, in Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes[6], London: Seeley, published 1903:
      The weather is raw and boisterous in winter, shifty and ungenial in summer, and a downright meteorological purgatory in the spring.


Derived terms[edit]


downright (not comparable)

  1. Really; actually; quite
    Synonyms: thoroughly, utterly
    He wasn’t just cool to me, he was downright rude.
  2. (obsolete) Straight down; perpendicularly.
  3. (obsolete) Plainly, unambiguously; directly.
  4. (obsolete) Without delay; at once.
    • 1712, Humphry Polesworth [pseudonym; John Arbuthnot], “An Account of the Conference between Mrs. Bull and Don Diego Dismallo”, in John Bull in His Senses: Being the Second Part of Law is a Bottomless-Pit. [], Edinburgh: [] James Watson, [], →OCLC, page 18:
      The reading of this Paper put Mrs. Bull in ſuch a Paſſion, that ſhe fell dovvnright into a Fit, and they vvere forc’d to give her a good quantity of the Spirit of Hartſhorn before ſhe recover’d.

Usage notes[edit]

"Downright" is used to intensify or emphasize the following adjective, which usually refers to some negative quality.



See also[edit]