I'd like to know how to use the phrasal verb spray down

When you spray something down it means that you spray liquid over a surface using a pump or something else, correct?

Can you say this then?

An exterminator came to my apartment and sprayed down the kitchen to kill all the roaches.

He sprayed his body down with sunscreen.

The plane sprayed poison down the meadow to kill the weeds.

2 Answers 2


I believe "spray down" is just a colloquialism.

In every instance, you could simply say "spray" instead. Using the word "down" adds a little emphasis to clarify that you're using a heavy coating of spray, not just spritzing a little liquid.

In that context, your first two examples are fine. Your third would not sound correct to a listener. Instead, try:

The plane sprayed down the meadow with poison to kill the weeds.

The plane sprayed the meadow with poison to kill the weeds.

Loaded with poison, the plane sprayed down the meadow to kill the weeds.

Essentially, you could split the phrase with the direct object (which would normally come after the verb anyway). But you can't split the phrase with a different part of the sentence (like the object of the preposition).


Yes, or it might be a mist of fine droplets, or even a gas, instead of a liquid.

Your first sentence seems perfectly grammatical and idiomatic.

The second is not ungrammatical, but seems off somehow. I would be more inclined to say just:

He sprayed his body with sunscreen.

The third is again not wrong, but feels odd. I would suggest:

The plane sprayed poison over the meadow to kill the weeds.

"Down the meadow" seems to suggest a spray moving from one end of the meadow to the other, and does not seem to use the idiom "sprayed down".

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