down and out

Idioms & Phrases

down and out

Lacking funds or prospects; destitute, penniless. For example, After losing his job, car, and home, he was completely down and out. This term probably originated in boxing, where it alludes to the fighter who is knocked down and stays down for a given time, thereby losing the bout. [c. 1900] Also see down for the count.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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