Down In The Dumps - Meaning, Origin and Usage

This guide will help you learn the meaning, origin, and synonyms of the expression ‘down in the dumps.’ It’ll help you understand the context behind the expression and teach you how to use it in a sentence.

Learning the English language is difficult, especially when you encounter phrases that don’t imply a literal meaning. However, figurative or artistic expressions are an integral part of the language, and can help you communicate and understand English better. So, it’s vital to know some of the most common phrases people use.

Down In The Dumps Meaning

You can use this whenever you want to describe sadness or loss of spirit. It could also mean a period of depression. It’s usually used whenever you want to describe a person’s feelings figuratively.

Usage Examples

  • Lina has been down in the dumps since she saw the results of her exam.
  • My friend lost her pet last week, so it’s not surprising she’s down in the dumps until now.

How To Use It In Sentence? 

The use of idioms can be confusing at first, especially when you don’t know how to include them in a sentence. In some cases, the rules on the proper usage of a phrase aren’t constant and can be change based on the context and intention of the speaker. However, you can keep the following tips in mind if you want to use the phrase ‘down in the dumps’ in a sentence.

  • This idiom is commonly used together with the word ‘feel’ or ‘feeling.’
  • Use it when describing a person’s emotions.
  • You can also use it to define a time of depression. For example, if you want to say a business hasn’t been doing well financially, you can use ‘in the dumps’ to describe the performance of an entity.
  • You can use ‘Down in the dumps’ or ‘in the dumps’ to express a more vivid feeling of sadness.

You shouldn’t confuse the word ‘dump’ and ‘dumpster’ when using this idiom. If you’re using the phrase ‘in the dumps’, you should remember you’re not referring to a real place. It’s used to denote a state of melancholy or depression. On the other hand, the word ‘dumpster,’ which sounds similar to ‘dumps’, is commonly used to dispose of rubbish.


The word ‘dumps’ has been used to express a period of depression during the mid-1600s. To be ‘in the dumps’ means you’re feeling depressed or experiencing a low period in your life. Sir Thomas More’s work ‘A dialoge of comforte against tribulation’ and William Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ both used the phrase ‘in the dumps.’ It was also found on Francis Grose’s priceless vocabulary, The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, published in 1785.

Similar Phrases

There are many idioms with a similar meaning as the phrase ‘down in the dumps.’ You can use them whenever you speak or write in English to express your thoughts better. You’ll eventually improve your vocabulary and find it easier to communicate and use idioms naturally if you know various phrases.

  • To Feel Blue: The word ‘blue can be used in a sentence to indicate color or express sadness. You can say you’re ‘feeling blue’ instead of simply saying you’re sad if you wish to communicate more eloquently.

Example: It’s been raining these past few days heavily, and it’s making me feel blue.

  • A Sad Sight: An event that causes a person to feel lonely or pity. A depressing scene.

Example: Seeing my friend cry for the first time was a sad sight.

  • One’s Heart Sinks: This expression can be used in a sentence to describe a feeling of sudden disappointment.

Example: My heart sank when I heard the news about the flooding in my hometown.

  • Knock One Sideways: To make someone extremely sad. To catch one off guard or put someone in a dejected situation.

Example: The sudden defeat of the team knocked all the players sideways. They’re no longer qualified for the championship.

Phrases That Mean The Opposite

Some idioms mean the complete opposite of ‘down in the dumps.’ Here are some:

  • On Top Of The World: This means you’re feeling thrilled. You can also use this to describe a significant achievement or event in your life.

Example: My brother finally got the promotion he always wanted. He feels like he’s on top of the world.

  • On Cloud Nine: Genuine happiness and feelings of bliss and contentment.

Example: I was on cloud nine when they announced my grades, and it was higher than what I expected.

Final Thoughts

The English language makes use of various forms of speech, like idioms. If you want to improve your overall language skill, you can learn how to use phrases with a figurative or less obvious meaning. For instance, using the words ‘down in the dumps’ instead of saying you’re feeling sad can help you express your emotions differently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *