Are there any differences in the meaning of or when we use the idioms 'out of sorts' and 'down in the dumps'? The definitions in the Cambridge Dictionary are:

  • out of sorts : in an unhappy mood
  • down in the dumps : unhappy
  • 1
    Other dictionaries suggest mildly unwell (or similar) for out of sorts, which is how I've always thought of it. Jul 22, 2020 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


As this NGram graph hows, out of sorts is a lot more common.

The two expressions certainly have a large overlap, but in my opinion, there is a difference of degree between the two. Out of sorts means slightly unhappy, probably temporarily- maybe reflecting your mood today. Down in the dumps suggests a rather more serious an long-term problem.

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