I wonder about "down".
Here is an example.

He went outside. He looked down the road.

I think that he is not in higher place.
I cannot figure out the meaning.

  • 1
    Interestingly, you can also substitute "up the road" in your sentence without much change in meaning.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 22, 2014 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


Beside "to or towards a lower place", down can also mean "in a direction away from you". In your context, given that he was not in a higher place, it means he looked at the road from where he was.

Here is a definition of down for the relevant meanings by Macmillan Dictionary:

4. in a direction away from you
    a. moving or looking along a road, track, path etc
        I was walking down the street with a couple of friends.
        James looked back down the drive to see if anyone was following him.

    b. moving or looking along a river in the same direction as the current
        We sailed down the Yellow River towards the open sea.

    c. at a point somewhere on a road, path etc in a direction away from you
        They live somewhere down Park Avenue.
        100 yards/2 miles etc down something:
        The nearest hotel is five or six miles down the main road.

    d. at a point further along a river in the direction of the current
        There's another bridge further down the river.

  • 1
    “He walked down the road” and “he walked along the road” sound fine to me. So does “he looked down the road”, but “he looked along the road” sounds off. That might be because his actual vantage point is stationary.
    – neubau
    Mar 22, 2014 at 10:30
  • @user2619 It does sound off, doesn't it? That's what I felt too, before I read Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carrol. "'[...] They’re both gone to the town. Just look along the road, and tell me if you can see either of them.'" Mar 22, 2014 at 10:34
  • @Damkerng T. I imagine that when “looking down the road”, your gaze travels in one motion, while if “looking along” it would pause at different points. By the way, there are some fun idioms with “down the river” and “up the river”.
    – neubau
    Mar 22, 2014 at 10:44
  • 2
    @user2619 - I can look down the road with a stationary gaze, if I'm standing on or near the road. Consider: I looked down the road, and saw a robot coming. Here's the picture.
    – J.R.
    Mar 22, 2014 at 11:07
  • @user2619 Thank you for the comment. I see your point. Too bad that I couldn't rephrase the phrase to simplify it without using the word "down". I hope that I didn't sell you down the river, and definitely not to send anyone up the river. :-) Mar 22, 2014 at 12:18

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