Down to Earth – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Being humble is the best way to build lasting relationships while still being the best at what you do. There are many ways to express that you or someone you know is humble. One of the well-loved expressions is that a person is down to earth. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


When someone used the phrase down to earth, they mean realistic, simple, and generally decent. The phrase is highly complementary and typically is used when referring to people. It can apply to situations or actions, however. Down to earth can also mean very straightforward and practical. A person who is down to earth usually tells things like it is without malice or embellishment. Being sensible is also the same as being down to earth. Pragmatic people, situations, or actions can also be considered down to earth.

Another way to explain the meaning of down to earth would be to say someone is simple and unobtrusive. For example, a person who prefers easy answers and is not into complicated relationships would be considered down to earth. Those who have a positive attitude and see the best in others are also among those considered down to earth.

Example Usage

“You keep saying that you are down to earth, but you have some of the weirdest demands on the planet”.

“My dad is really simple and down to earth despite being a well-known actor”.

“It is always refreshing to spend time with people who are down to earth, it gives you an interesting perspective on life”.

“I can’t stand pretentious people, I prefer those who are down to earth and have no problem learning from others”.


The phrase down to earth has been around for more than a hundred years, however, there is no exact point of reference for its origin. It does not exist in records prior to 1925, though there are some similar phrases found earlier on. The phrase has always been used to convey that something is reasonable, level, and stalwart. There are print advertisements from 1922 using the phrase to sell women’s clothing. Ten years later the same phrase is also used for advertisement purposes.

Another less common theory is that the phrase has biblical origins. Specifically, the phrase comes from angels being thrown “down to earth”. It is said that the phrase was created to help humans understand the movements of celestials. It has also been used to describe well-dressed men in Scotland. Regardless of the source, the meaning remains constant regardless of the source.

Phrases Similar to Down to Earth

  • Humble
  • Unassuming
  • Demure
  • Modest
  • Unpretentious
  • Meek

Phrases Opposite to Down to Earth

  • Hardheaded
  • Prideful
  • Unapproachable
  • Neurotic
  • Uptight
  • Straight arrow
  • Arrogant

What is the Correct Saying?

  • The proper way to say the phrase is – down to earth.

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Down to Earth

Some ways that down-to-earth is used incorrectly are:

  • I really think that billionaires are down to earth, after all, that’s why they don’t mingle with the public.
  • The Kardashian style of dressing is very posh and down-to-earth.
  • Drag queens are so flamboyant and down to earth. They tend to draw all of the attention in the room.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Down to Earth

Some ways that down-to-earth is used correctly are:

  • Janise is so kind and humble, it is amazing how down-to-earth she is compared to her position.
  • Being a pastor means that you have to remain down to earth so that you can better convey your message.
  • To add some charm to the group, we invited John to join. He is very charming and down to earth.
  • Spotting someone who is down to earth is pretty easy, at least when compared to those who are self-absorbed.

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