What does the idiom "feel down in the mouth" mean?

The expression feel down in the mouth is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the feel down in the mouth idiom.

Meaning of "feel down in the mouth"


When someone is said to be “feeling down in the mouth,” they are feeling down or discouraged. This phrase is an idiomatic expression that implies that a person's morale is low, making them feel dejected and sad. It is a metaphor that compares a person's emotional state to that of an animal's mouth when it is down in a frowning position.


The phrase “down in the mouth” has been used since at least the 1500s. It is believed to have originated from the visual of a lower jaw drooping, giving an impression of someone looking sad. This phrase was also used in Shakespeare’s works, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Thou look’st down in the Mouth, and heere’s a A man that forbeares thee.”

The phrase “feeling down in the mouth” is a combination of the phrase “down in the mouth” and the verb “feeling”. This phrase began to be used more often in the late 19th century.


The phrase “feeling down in the mouth” is most often used in informal contexts, such as between friends or family members. It can be used to describe someone’s current emotional state, as well as how they are feeling after a particular event or experience. It can also be used to offer comfort or advice to someone who is feeling down or depressed.

Example Sentences

  • I know you feel down in the mouth right now, but remember that it will get better.
  • He was feeling down in the mouth after his team lost the game.
  • I couldn't help but feel down in the mouth after hearing the news.
  • She was feeling down in the mouth after her break up.

The meanings of the words in the "feel down in the mouth" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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