Down To Earth – Meaning & Origin


Someone might use the idiom down to earth to describe a person who is unpretentious and/or reasonable. This phrase might also be used to describe ideas that are practical and sensible.

Example: Someone in our marketing department suggested we advertise our new product with hot air balloons. While I appreciated his suggestion, I told him that we need a plan that is more down to earth.

Synonyms / Similar Phrases
1. Level-headed
2. Rational
3. Sensible
Idiom: Down to earth, planet in space.
Anton Balazh –

The Origin Of ‘Down to Earth’

This idiom’s origin is not clear. The earliest I could find the phrase ‘down to earth’ in print with its figurative meaning is during the early 20th century. During that time, it was commonly used (and this may still be the case today to some extent) to describe the cost of certain items and how ‘reasonable and affordable’ these prices were. For example, in the Newark Advocate newspaper from 1922, there’s a section in the paper about women’s clothing that says:

“Here are four groups of worth-while garments at ‘down to earth’ prices.”

A second example of this phrase being used to express ‘low, sensible prices’ comes from the Sandusky Star Journal newspaper, 1935:

“And, while our fashions are as new as tomorrow, our prices are the good down-to-earth prices that save you money.”

So this phrase is nearly 100 years old, at the least.

Examples and Sentences

  • I needed to have my car repaired and I was worried that the costs would be through the roof. However, the prices were actually down to earth and reasonable.
  • I met a professional basketball player and I thought he would be full of himself, but he was more down to earth than I expected.

Note: The origin of many popular sayings are not known. Generally then, what you’ll see on the phrase’s page is either a theory about its origin, or there will be a quotation. The purpose of these quotations is to give you an idea on how far back in history a saying goes. So if you see an idiom being quoted in a book from 1600, then you know that idiom is at least that old.

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