I have a sentence,

Here's a rundown on/of the activities of our ten biggest competitors.

The meaning of rundown is 'a detailed report' which I cannot interpret intuitively.

if the slang means 'supporting' I can discern easier as supporting somebody a bridge to rundown from a dilemma.

In Wikipedia, it explains in baseball which is difficult for non-native speakers without that sports in majority.

in Etymology Dictionary,

in baseball, 1908, from verbal phrase, from run (v.) + down (adv.). Meaning "list of entries in a horse race and the odds" is from 1935; slang generalized sense of "summary, account, list of information or facts" is from 1945.

What's the story about the extending of slang 'rundown'

  • 1
    Why the difficulty in comparing "list of entries in a horse race and the odds" with the later "summary, account, list of information or facts" - both lists you run your eyes down
    – mplungjan
    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:52
  • It's difficult to understand from run+down to 'list'
    – Wizard
    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:54
  • 1
    It is a well known and used idiom: "To run down a list" or "To run your eyes down a list"
    – mplungjan
    Dec 8, 2017 at 11:01

2 Answers 2


The verb run can mean to perform a procedure to completion (probably derived from a person running around a predetermined course), and often suggests something composed of a number of detailed steps which must be done in order. Hence why computer programs are said to run and why there are phrases like run this through the machine, run it through our process, etc.

Run down X when X is a list means to go through each item in the list. Many lists are vertically arranged bulleted or numbered items, so "down" is associated with "completed."

A rundown (noun form) is a list created by going through each or every of something, later expected to be gone through item by item in sequence.


While I understand run down in the context you have given, I'm wondering what the run down actually looks like.

If it is actually a list of activities that have an order then run down would be appropriate. However if

a) there is no obvious order


b) it's a little bit more than a list, i.e. there are some explanatory notes explaining the activities

then I would use:

Break down - to divide into parts to give more details, to provide a more indepth analysis of.

Here is a break down of the activities of our ten biggest competitors.

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