What does the idiom "put a damper on" mean?

Are you using the idiom put a damper on but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the put a damper on idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "put a damper on"


The idiomatic phrase “to put a damper on” means to have a depressing or discouraging effect on something. It can be used to refer to activities, emotions, or enthusiasm.


The expression “to put a damper on” has origins tracing back to the 16th century. It originally referred to closing the dampers in the firebox of a furnace to reduce the air supply and reduce the heat. The damper was the physical object that was used to put a stop to the fire, and the phrase “to put a damper on” came to mean figuratively to stop or to inhibit something.


The phrase “to put a damper on” is typically used to express disappointment or discouragement. It can be used in any situation where enthusiasm is dampened or enthusiasm is dampened. For example, someone might say “the bad weather put a damper on our plans” to indicate that their plans were hindered or discouraged due to the weather conditions.

Example Sentences

  • The surprise cancellation of the show put a damper on the evening.
  • The poor reviews of the movie put a damper on its box office success.
  • The news of her aunt's ill health put a damper on the party.
  • The ongoing pandemic has put a damper on our holiday plans.

The meanings of the words in the "put a damper on" 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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