run down

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See also: rundown and run-down



run down (third-person singular simple present runs down, present participle running down, simple past ran down, past participle run down)

  1. (transitive) To hit someone with a car or other vehicle and injure or kill them.
    He was run down while crossing the main road.
  2. (transitive) To criticize someone or an organisation, often unfairly.
    Whatever the company says, the media is going to run them down.
    My sister is always running me down in front of my friends.
    Don't run yourself down so much!
    • 1777, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal, I.i:
      Ha! ha! ha! 'tis very hard for them to leave a subject they have not quite run down.
  3. (transitive) To find something or someone after searching for a long time.
    I finally managed to run down that report. I had filed it incorrectly.
  4. (transitive, intransitive) To lose power slowly. Used for a machine, battery, or other powered device.
    You need to wind up the clock every day so that it doesn't run down.
    If you don't switch off the car lights, you will run the battery down.
  5. (transitive) To read quickly a list or other short text.
    Running down the list of suggestions, I can see three we can discard immediately.
  6. (transitive) To describe in the form of a rundown, a rough outline or summary.
    • 2013, Nora Roberts, The Name of the Game
      When the minute was up, John Jay managed to make the woman twice as nervous as he ran down the rules and the possibilities.
  7. (Britain, transitive) To reduce the size or stock levels of a business, often with a view to closure.
    The board of directors have decided to run down the stocks held in storage prior to offering the company for sale.
    • 2022 November 30, Nigel Harris, “A bid to break the other side?”, in RAIL, number 971, page 3:
      Social media has been full of strident criticism of a Government perceived as pursuing a conscious policy to run down - even destroy - our railway.
  8. To decline in quality or condition.
    to run down in health
    • 2022 January 26, Paul Clifton, “"Intolerable" service cuts under emergency COVID timetables”, in RAIL, number 949, page 8:
      TravelWatch SouthWest Chairman Chris Irwin said: "This is intolerable. The South West deserves levelling up, not running down. SWR and its sponsors in the Department of Transport must be called to account."
  9. (hunting) To chase till the object pursued is captured or exhausted.
    to run down a stag
  10. (nautical, transitive) To run against and sink, as a vessel.
    • 1943 May and June, Chas. S. Lake, “Some Continental Travel Experiences (1922-1939)—III”, in Railway Magazine, page 143:
      The Jylland only missed running down a schooner by a few yards in the fog; it was a near thing—near enough, in fact, to allow of some shouted remarks between those on the bridge of the motorship and the man at the wheel of the schooner to be clearly heard.
    • 2021 March 10, Drachinifel, Guadalcanal Campaign - The Big Night Battle: Night 1 (IJN 3(?) : 2 USN)[1], archived from the original on 17 October 2022, retrieved 6 November 2022, 14:35 from the start:
      Hiei now loomed into the action, causing the leading U.S. destroyers to scatter before the oncoming behemoth lest they be run down.
  11. (transitive) To crush; to overthrow; to overbear.
    • 1736, George Berkeley, A Discourse addressed to Magistrates and Men of Authority
      Religion is [] run down by the prevailing licence of these times.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In all transitive senses except that of “to read quickly”, the object can come before or after the particle. If the object is a pronoun, then it must come before the particle.