Language truly is an art that evolves as time goes on.
Even within one language, the meanings of words and phrases are constantly changing.
The definitions of words can change and be added to within a short period of time, especially when it comes to slang.
Language is an art that is influenced by society and changes just as quickly as the world around us.
What Does Down To Earth Mean?
When describing someone or something as “down to earth”, you are saying that the person or thing is grounded or level-headed.
Those who are down to earth are typically peaceful and cool.
The phrase can also mean to be humble.
A pleasant, humble celebrity may be referred to as being down to earth.
Your friend who never gets riled up and remains reasonable could also be described as being down to earth.
People who are down to earth are typically pleasant and relaxing to be around.
The phrase isn’t just for referring to people, but it can also be used to describe things or situations.
Sitting next to a babbling stream with a book or musical instrument can be down to earth.
If the price of repairing your car is low and reasonable, that can also be described as being down to earth.
The earliest use of the phrase was in a newspaper from 1922, The Newark Advocate.
The phrase was used to describe reasonably priced clothing for women.
The ad stated simply in the paper, “Here are four groups of worthwhile garments at ‘down to earth’ prices.”
There has been another recorded use of the phrase in an ad from 1935 in the Sandusky Star Journal.
The phrase was once again used to describe the price of clothing.
The newspaper ad read, “And, while our fashions are as new as tomorrow, our prices are the good down-to-earth prices that save you money.”
This nearly 100-year-old phrase even changed the grammatical rules that the phrase adhered to.
Over the decades, the phrase has gained more meaning and has a deeper connotation with different social groups throughout history.
Despite having been around for almost 100 years, the phrase hasn’t decreased in popularity, and instead, it has evolved with the times.
The Comedic Boost Of The 1930s
Throughout the 1930s, down to earth clung to its meaning of being affordable.
This phrase, loved by all those who were keeping a tight budget due to the Great Depression, became the title of a popular comedic book and later movie by Homer Croy.
The earliest days of film knew Croy as a genius comedy writer.
His books would follow gracious characters in hilariously humbling experiences that allowed his readers to forget about the struggles their world was currently facing.
In 1932, Homer Croy’s book, Down to Earth, was turned into a film starring Will Rogers, Dorothy Jordan, Irene Rich, Matty Kemp, and other popular stars of the time.
The story followed a wealthy family who had come home from a vacation in Paris to find they didn’t have any more money.
Down to Earth is a story of the importance of humility and not taking things for granted.
Even the tagline for the movie emphasized this saying “His family took a ‘high-flyer’, but he brought them down to earth”.
This tagline was on every ad for the movie in 1932.
Although the story may sound tragic, the way Croy has written it makes you laugh at the over-the-top nature of it all.
Down to Earth and the movie it is a sequel of, They Had to See Paris, is seen as a golden piece of early comedy history.
From Reasonable To Psychedelic
From about the 1920s to the 1950s, “down to earth” was mainly used to describe reasonable things and situations.
The phrase solely referred to those who didn’t have their heads in the clouds, but soon, the hippies of the 1960s and 1970s would come in to give the old phrase a fresh coat of paint.
Hippie culture was all about being in tune with yourself, with others, and with the planet.
With the Vietnam War creating a stronger call for peace and love, the hippie movement was supercharged with supporters who were sick of the pain and fighting.
While some may argue that hippies aren’t known for being reasonable, the idea that you should take care of the area around you and be humble becomes more of a reasonable idea the longer you think about it.
First and foremost, the hippies of the 1960s and 1970s wanted peace.
The youth that made up this subculture didn’t believe that our country should have been harming and killing all of the innocent people who called Vietnam home.
The hippies also believed that no man was better than another, with no regard for where he may have come from.
The hippies saw everyone as people and individuals, just as they were.
This subculture also knew that they needed to keep their environment clean and safe because, otherwise, the beauty of nature would be lost.
Keeping your local environment clean also keeps you and your neighbors healthy.
To the hippies, being down to earth was the idea that you didn’t see yourself as higher than any other person, and you saw the importance of being good to the planet.
These tree huggers took a term that was once used to describe a reasonable person and began applying it to relaxed people who wanted to help the environment.
Theories Of The Origin
Nobody is certain exactly when this phrase came to be.
We only know that it was used nearly 100 years ago thanks to the newspaper ad from 1922.
There is one common theory as to the origin of the phrase, but no one can say for sure.
The most common theory as to the origin of the phrase is the Biblical stories of when God would send angels down to earth in order to assist and inform His believers.
The Lord’s act of sending down angels was seen as an act of mercy.
Others speculate that the phrase comes from when God would send His word down to earth for humans to have an easier time remembering and understanding what was expected of them.
It was seen as a way to offer guidance towards the correct and reasonable direction.
Many classic idioms have been used for an unknown amount of time that derive from the Bible.
People have taken inspiration from the Bible for as long as it has existed.
It is seen as a crucial book of history, even outside of its religious context and connotation.
There are endless examples of phrases that were inspired by the Bible.
“Turning the other cheek” means not being vengeful after being hurt and not allowing further pain.
It is based on the Bible verse Matthew 5:38–40, which discusses the same thing.
Another common phrase that comes from the Bible is “writing on the wall”.
When there is writing on the wall, it means that there is a sign of destruction or impending doom.
You can find this story in the 5th chapter of the book of Daniel.
The oldest phrases often come from the Bible, like down to earth.
How To Be Down To Earth
Most people really like those who can be described as being down to earth.
People who are down to earth are easy to be around and aren’t known for stirring up trouble.
Being around them is soothing and relaxing.
When trying to become down to earth, there is a lot of self-analysis that must go on first.
Being down to earth is about being reasonable with yourself and others.
In order to be reasonable, you have to be thoughtful and think critically about what you are considering.
The first step in becoming someone who is down to earth is to consider how you see yourself compared to others.
Are you someone who sees yourself as higher or lower than most others?
Then you have to consider where this idea of being better or lesser than anyone else comes from.
Those who are down to earth will see everyone as equals.
This doesn’t mean everyone is the same, but rather that everyone has the same amount of value to contribute to the world.
Down to earth people are often deemed low maintenance, meaning it doesn’t take much for them to be satisfied or happy.
There’s no need for over-the-top or fancy arrangements for them.
Choosing practicality over flashiness is another sign of being down to earth.
People who are down to earth have a firm understanding of the difference between a want and a need.
They can live without all their wants to be fulfilled, as long as they have just about everything they need.
If you are wanting to be seen as down to earth, you’re going to need the ability to keep the peace.
Fighting is rarely useful and more often impractical, so truly down to earth people avoid fighting whenever possible.
The Importance Of Being Down To Earth
All of the meanings that go into the phrase are the building blocks of being a pleasant person.
Although down to earth people can sometimes be seen as not being urgent enough or ignorant, it is still an incredibly important trait to have.
Leading a down-to-earth, practical life will save money and stress.
Being practical makes you consider what you actually need in life.
Using a more practical mindset will allow you to avoid making bad decisions based on feelings in the moment.
Many people see those who are practical as good problem solvers.
They are slow to let the emotions of a situation get to their head.
Friends and family see practical people as people who can get even the hardest challenges done.
When someone is down to earth, they’re also being reasonable.
Down to earth people don’t have unachievable expectations.
Being reasonable means basing your decisions on what is ethically, logically, and emotionally the best idea.
The reasonable person in any friend group is normally the one who has the greatest advice.
Reasonable people take their time thinking over things before deciding, which makes those around them put more value into what they have to say.
Down to earth people aren’t egotistical and believe that they are better than everyone else or deserve things they didn’t earn.
It is the practical side of their nature that keeps them grounded and keeps them from becoming too full of themselves.
Nobody likes someone who is arrogant or who has deemed themselves better than others.
The humility of a down to earth person makes their loved ones feel more secure with them, which often leads to them being more trusting of a person.
Down to earth people are some of the most pleasant people to be around.
We’re All Down On The Same Earth
The phrase “down to earth” has been in use for at least 99 years, if not even longer.
It is an idiom that has managed to perfectly apply to many different types of people, things, and situations throughout the century.
While it may have first been seen being used to describe the price of clothes, it has become a personality trait that people look for in others and try to achieve for themselves.
The peaceful hippie subculture of the 1960s and 1970s re-popularized the phrase to apply to a more tree-hugging, freely loving person.
With the recent resurgence of hippie culture, the phrase has been thrown back into the spotlight.
Now the phrase is more closely intertwined with the need to be environmentally friendly than it ever was before.
Unlike many aging phrases, “down to earth” has never become any less cool or trendy.
It is one of those rare phrases that hasn’t become outdated due to rapid social change.
Anyone and everyone can be down to earth.
Everyone should give it a try at one point or another in their life.NEXT: What's The Difference Between Gluttony And Greed? (Explained)