go south

Slang Dictionary

go South definition


and head South
  1. in.
    to fall; to go down. (Securities markets. This is a way of saying down. South is usually “down” on a map.) : The market headed South today at the opening bell.
  2. in.
    to quit; to drop out of sight. : After pulling the bank job, Shorty went South for a few months.
  3. in.
    to make an escape; to disappear. : The mugger went South just after the crime.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

go south

Deteriorate or decline, as in The stock market is headed south again. This expression is generally thought to allude to compasses and two-dimensional maps where north is up and south is down. However, among some Native Americans, the term was a euphemism for dying, and possibly this sense led to the present usage. [Slang; first half of 1900s] Also see go west.

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