from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Worn out from long use or neglect; dilapidated.
  • adjective Shabbily dressed because of poverty; seedy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Attributive form of down at heel.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word down-at-heel.


  • In Owton Manor, a down-at-heel suburb in the south-west of the town, things are even worse.

    How the north of England has suffered most in the downturn

  • Small, roll-up curtains reveal four colorful rooms behind the facade, one each for the preening stepsisters Clorinda and Tisbe downstairs, and two upstairs for their harrumphing father Don Magnifico, the down-at-heel Baron of Montefiascone, while sweet and sprightly Angelina gets the cinders and the scullery in the middle.

    'La Cenerentola' Sparkles on the Paris Stage

  • Unsurprisingly, the likes of Mike Skinner feel a kinship with GP's down-at-heel rhyming – however dark the work can be, there's a feeling of a torch being passed.

    This week's new live music

  • Back when I was young, it was a really down-at-heel place, with hassle and trouble wherever you went, but now it's really pulled itself up by its bootstraps.

    Good to Meet You: Peter Bate

  • Suspicion soon alighted on a young, down-at-heel German-born tailor called Franz Muller, and Mr Briggs' Hat is a compelling read because innocent explanations are gradually posited for the following, apparently damning facts: that Muller was found in possession of Briggs's watch and possibly his hat; that the hat left in the carriage was also traced to him; that he sailed to America just days after the killing.

    Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder by Kate Colquhoun – review

  • Lebedev celebrated his 49th birthday in the down-at-heel offices of Novaya Gazeta, the liberal Moscow newspaper he part owns with Mikhail Gorbachev.

    Alexander Lebedev: profile

  • Puppets mingle with live performers – P&J are now two down-at-heel vaudevillians – as creativity is put in the dock and the show goes to Hell crocodiles and sausages still included.

    This week's new theatre and dance

  • From there I'd suggest heading to Ueno, a slightly down-at-heel area, built around a park, that still has a faintly rural feel and reminds you of what Tokyo used to be when its Meiji refashioners, in the late 19th century, took their cues from London and Paris.

    Big in Japan: why Tokyo is top

  • It helped too to have a cast stuffed with big-name stars and acclaimed character actors, including Dustin Hoffman as fresh-out-of-jail gangster Chester "Ace" Bernstein, Dennis Farina as his right-hand man, Nick Nolte as a down-at-heel trainer, and Michael Gambon as Bernstein's old foe.

    After John From Cincinatti, David Milch spies a change in his Luck

  • Why Once Scotland's most popular seaside town, Rothesay, on this island 15 miles long by four wide and two hours' drive from Glasgow, is now full of down-at-heel charm.

    Five great beach weekends


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.