Down the Road

Meaning of Idiom ‘Down the Road’

The idiom down the road has a literal meaning and a figurative one.

1. Literally, down the road means farther along this same road. Up the road is a synonym accept up the road has no figurative meaning.

2. Figuratively, down the road means in the future; at a certain point in the future. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,3Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.


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Usage

When used in the literal sense, the expression refers to a road one is one or one is near. It is often used when giving directions or describing where something is located.

Sometimes, down the road and up the road are combined into ‘up and down the road.’ For example: “This morning there were army trucks driving up and down the road. It was weird.”

Here, up and down means back and forth although sometimes people do consider one direction to be up, such as north or toward town, and the other to be down, such as south or away from town.

When the word ‘just’ is added, it means ‘not far down the road’ or near.

When the figurative sense is used, a time in the future is sometimes mentioned.

Examples Of Use (Literal)

“Don’t worry, there’s a gas station just down the road.”

“Can you tell where there is a grocery store?” “Sure, there’s one just down the road.”

“Just up the road a piece there’s a big church. You want to turn right at the road just before the church.”

“I live up the road about a mile so I’m able to walk to work.”

Examples Of Use (Figurative)

“They always told me algebra and calculus would be useful down the road, but I’ve yet to use it!”

“Down the road, you have the potential to be a great singer but right now you need to keep practicing and learning.”

“Many people think that down the road, Michelle Obama will be president.”

“Down the road, there will be a vaccine but right now we have to be careful.”

Origin

The literal meaning of this idiom has been used since at least the early part of the 1800s while the figurative sense has been used since the second half of the 1900s, converting
forward movement or distance into time.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
3. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.