Put Your Foot Down

I’m putting my foot down. It’s time for you to put your feet up and relax. You’ve been burning the candle at both ends.

To put your foot down and to put your feet up couldn’t have more different meanings. It’s fascinating how just small changes can make such a huge difference in idioms.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Put Your Foot Down’

To put one’s foot down means to demand authoritatively that someone stop doing something or that someone behave the way you want; to act firmly to disallow or stop some action; to emphatically say no.

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Usage Notes

The singular foot is always used.

Examples Of Use

“You can’t let your kids stay up all night. You have to put your foot down and establish a firm bedtime.”

“Shelley got her ears pierced without telling her parents but her mother put her foot down when she tried to get a tattoo!”

“She put her foot down and said that there was no way she would allow her daughters to attend a party with no adults present.”

“This is the last straw,” said the boss. “I’m putting my foot down. Either you show up on time or you’re fired.”


Used since the 1800s, this idiom alludes to setting your foot down firmly, indicating a firm stand or position.

If putting one’s foot down seems to indicate some tension and aggravation, then to put your feet up is quite the opposite.

To put one’s feet up means to rest and relax; to do very little besides rest and recuperate.

Here, the plural feet is always used.

Examples of Use

“After a long week at work, I can’t wait to get home and put my feet up.”

“I worked on painting the house all day and thought I’d be able to put my feet up with a cold beer, but my wife handed me a list of chores!”


To put your feet up is based on the actual meaning of putting your feet up, to sit with your feet elevated, and supported above the ground.

For example, you might put your feet up on your desk, or put your feet up in front of your favorite chair.

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