June 13, 2013

It’s All Downhill From Here

Giacomo & Slick

Giacomo & Slick

My wife was reading a book the other night and the female lead was having a difficult time with her relationship. At one point the character said to her friend, “Nothing’s left. It’s all downhill from here.”

Confused, my wife came to me and asked about the saying.

“I thought ‘it’s all downhill from here’ was a good thing,” she said.

I looked up from the computer, and said, “It is.”

Then she showed me the sentence, and the context.

I read it twice. “The author’s wrong, but it’s still bad news for the heroine.”

Why The Confusion?

Why is there confusion surrounding what seems to be such an easy saying to understand? The mix-up stems from the fact that there are two similar sayings. Let’s take them one at a time.

DownhillIt’s All Downhill From Here

This is a good thing. Imagine riding a bike up a steep hill, struggling for half an hour or more to reach the top. You hit the summit and look out over the valley below. You smile.

“It’s all downhill from here.”

In this context you know exactly what that phrase means. It’s going to be easy. Fun. You’re going to sit back on your seat and smile as you coast down the hill, letting the breeze keep you cool. But then you see a saying that says…

He’s Going Downhill

You wonder if that’s good or bad. I’ll give you a clue—if you see any form of the verb go: went, gone, going, goes…somebody is probably in trouble. An example would be: “Ever since Bob had the operation he’s gone downhill.”

What? I thought that meant he was getting better?

Unfortunately—for Bob—this slightly different phrase means getting worse. I don’t know the origin of it, but it more than likely stems from our seemingly endless insistence that up is good and down is bad.

  • Heaven is up. Hell is down.
  • Stock market is up, or stock market is down.
  • Thumbs up or thumbs down.
  • Life has ups and downs.

We are so trained to thinking of up as good and down as bad that we even change the meaning to suit our notions, as we did with the practice of “thumbs up” and “thumbs down.”

Bottom Line

If you find yourself in the hospital and you hear the word “downhill” mentioned while your doctors are conversing, you better hope they said “it’s all downhill from here,” and not “he’s going downhill.”


Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,




Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of MURDER TAKES TIME, MURDER HAS CONSEQUENCES, and A BULLET FOR CARLOS. He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on other confusing sayings.

photo credit: Brave Heart via photopin cc

2 Responses to “It’s All Downhill From Here”

  1. Wicked! Apparently I haven’t typed enough words to submit. Bummer! (Perhaps that’s a good thing) Trying again.

  2. thanks for dropping by, Anne.

Leave a Reply

  • Follow Me:
    Follow Me on Pinterest
  • This blog will be a little different from many you see. Contrary to the characters in my books, I don’t really kill people, or catch those who do, so the blogs might be about reading, or writing, or animals. These are the things I have great passion for. It might also contain posts about food, or ancestry, or substance abuse. My oldest son is a great cook. My daughter is a genealogist (rootsintheboot.com) and my youngest son is a recovering drug addict. He has been clean for three years, and runs a rehab center (intoactionrecovery.com).

    I hope you enjoy the posts, and please let me know what you think.



  • Vellum, the best way to format an ebook

    Vellum is the easiest and best way to create stunning ebooks. And you can do it for less money and spend far less time.
  • Text Expander™

    Text Expander™ is simply the best way to type. If you write and you don't use it...well, I won't say what you are, but you should be using it.
  • Subscribe to our newsletter!

    Get awesome updates about new stories, notifications of special sales and giveaways, and free books. You'll be the first to know about everything.

    * indicates required
    Pick a newsletter from the options below:
    We will NEVER give your contact information to anyone.
  • Get Finding Family as a gift when you sign up.

  • Lightbox

  • Archives

  •   World Literary Cafe
    The Independent Author Network
  • “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” Mahatma Gandhi
  • Tags