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The definition of "die down" in the dictionary is very general

die down: ​to become gradually less strong, loud, easy to notice, etc.

The flames finally died down.

When the applause had died down, she began her speech.

"die down" is often used with flame, fire, wind, storm, rain...

For example, the flame, fire, wind, storm, rain is dying down

Let's see this situation. My daughter had a sticker and she stuck it to her leg, arm... several times that the glue or sticky substance on the back of the sticker became less strong and it was difficult to properly stick the sticker to the wall because it might have fallen off.

My question is that: Can we use "die down" for other things than flame, fire, wind, storm, rain...?

For example, "The glue on the back of the sticker is dying down so I can not stick the sticker to the wall"

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    “Ye are the glue of the sticker. But if the glue hath lost its grip, wherewith shall it be glued?”
    – Davislor
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 15:40
  • A single word for a sticker that isn't sticky anymore? Nope. +1. There's water based, solvent based, chemically curing, friction.... Which would be, dried, evaporated, set, and [loss of co-efficient?], respectively.
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 21:09
  • FWIW, you could say the glue/sticker is "dead" if you wanted to use a similar figure of speech. I don't know if it's super common, but people would know what you mean. For comparison, we call batteries "dead" when they run out.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 21:45

3 Answers 3

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There are a few things that would make your sentence more idiomatic and succinct, but the main focus of your question is about your use of the expression 'dying down' with reference to the glue. In short, no - that isn't an idiomatic expression.

The most common thing to say would be that the glue had 'dried up', as this is the usual reason that glue loses its strength. We might also say the glue had 'worn off', especially on something like a sticker or an envelope that is pre-glued and the glue is no longer there.

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    Given his daughter's problem worn off seems more plausible.
    – mdewey
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 14:54
  • @mdewey As a parent myself I'm familiar with the different kinds of stickers - those metal foil stickers don't really bond with the glue and it can actually rub away from the sticker itself. But those paper stickers are more prone to the glue just drying up from exposure to the air once they are peeled away from their wax paper base.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 16:17
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    I’d argue that the most idiomatic way to describe the situation is to say “it won’t stick”, without trying to explain why not—not unless the interlocutor asks! But that may just be me. Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 3:34
  • If you really wanted to use the expression ‘died down’, you could perhaps say that the strength of the adhesive had died down — that's still a little odd, but I think rather closer to being idiomatic.
    – gidds
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 22:17
  • @mdewey I wouldn't choose "worn off" as that implies that the glue has disappeared, and presumably the problem here is that it has become ineffective, or "is no longer sticky".
    – MikeB
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 14:15
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No. To "die down" refers to a reduced amount of activity. So a fire can die down as its flames get smaller and dimmer, a party can die down as people leave and the music gets quieter, a loud sports crowd dies down when the opposing team scores.

But glue isn't active at all, no matter how well it's working.

The single verb "weaken" works better, but the most natural way is to describe it in words:

The glue on the back of the sticker is losing its stickiness, so I cannot stick the sticker to the wall."

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  • I think "energy expended" might be putting too fine a point on it, but I certainly agree that "die down" implies being active, which the glue isn’t. I think this is the best answer. Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 3:32
  • @TimPederick Can you give me a case where something that idiomatically dies down is active, but not expending energy? Or did you just mean my wording is unnecessarily precise?
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 5:48
  • My concern was in the opposite direction: that something might be dying down (perceived as less active) even though it’s still expending as much or more energy; or that something might be expending energy to maintain an “inactive” state, so changes to it should not be described as dying down. Examples I just made up that probably aren’t very good: A storm is said to die down because it’s moved off, but is just as strong in its new location. A spacecraft ceases using its thrusters in a station-keeping manoeuvre and moves under momentum (I wouldn’t say it’s “died down”). Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 5:57
  • @TimPederick Thanks. That's a valid edge case. I've edited my answer.
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 14:40
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    Just to expand on this, "die down" refers to more than reducing activity. It implies that something was previously very active/noticeable or "alive" (metaphorically). If the wind was barely a breeze and then the air goes still, you wouldn't say that it died down. You'd use "died down" if there was previously heavy wind. If you had a roaring fire and it reduced to a small one, you'd say it died down, but not if it was a small fire to begin with and it got smaller.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 19:01
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No, died down isn't used like that.

It would be far easier to say

I can't stick the sticker to the wall.

And allow the reason to be implied.

If someone then asks:

Why not?

You might reply

Because it's not sticky.

and if they persist:

Why's it not sticky?

You could, reply with

Because the glue has dried out,

or

Because the glue has washed off,

or

Because the glue has got covered in dust and dirt.

etc.

Note, always remember that there are two people in any conversation. You don't need to say everything in one go. You are allowed to leave things unsaid and implied, and allow the other person to inquire further if they want to.

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    Or if you're a fan of Zeno of Elea, you can give an entirely different reason why you can't stick anything to that damn wall.
    – Thierry
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 0:44
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    Perhaps it's because there's too much jelly nailed to the wall.
    – Magoo
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 16:29

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