comments didn't go over/down well

Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
From Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English 2:
Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence, using the word given.

John’s comments on the new film were not well received.

John’s comments on the new film . . . . . . . . . well. (go)

My version: John’s comments on the new film did not go over well.
Key’s version: John’s comments on the new film did not go down well.

I have found in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English that “go over well” means “if something goes over well, people like it”, so taking that into account, I don’t see why my sentence doesn’t work.

What do you think?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I perceive a very slight difference. To me something would 'go over' well with a crowd, whereas something could 'go down' well with one person or more.

    It's a very subtle difference, so subtle that it might not actually exist.:confused:


    In the context of the question, where there's no mention of of who received the comments, either answer works for me.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I have a preference for "go down", and Cambridge Online Dictionary has "go over (U.S. for go down - be received)" so that might explain it. Other dictionaries I checked with didn't make the Br./ U.S. distinction though.
     

    Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    In my opinion 'go down well' is correct.
    I don't think I have ever heard 'go over well', though since another BrE speaker (heypresto) considers it to be OK, I can't disagree :)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    To me, "didn't go down well" suggests an attempt at swallowing followed by choking or indigestion. It's possible for that to be metaphorical but I greatly prefer your version.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I hope it's not off-topic to mention a colourful expression we use in BE to describe a joke, or comment that goes down badly. We say that 'it went down like a lead balloon'.
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thanks everyone.

    I have a preference for "go down", and Cambridge Online Dictionary has "go over (U.S. for go down - be received)" so that might explain it. Other dictionaries I checked with didn't make the Br./ U.S. distinction though.
    Interesting. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English doesn't make that distinction either. According to this dictionary, in AmE you can also say "go over big", but "go over well" is used in both AmE and BrE.
     
    Last edited:

    eyeofhorus

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    Does it really say 'go over big'? Americans, time to wade in here.

    I would never, ever, say that, and honestly I find it mildly shocking. I've also had my share of US TV, films, etc., and I can't say I've ever heard it.

    I agree with the slight difference pointed out by heypresto, but the two expressions are extremely close in meaning. Was the answer chosen from a multiple choice list which also contained 'go over'? If so, I'd have take issue with the publisher for that.

    I agree with Myridon - I think 'go down' evokes images of swallowing (and digesting) something, similar to a phrase like 'they couldn't stomach it' - all basically meaning 'receive/accept/tolerate something'. As such, I think 'go down' is a more colourful expression.
     
    Last edited:

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    My version: John’s comments on the new film did not go over well.
    Key’s version: John’s comments on the new film did not go down well.
    Down well is the only version for me. Now I have been out of the UK for some considerable time, so it could be possible that this is another example of the on going changes to our (whose?) language.

    GF..

    For whatever it mean, 2 Googles produced a significant advantage for the down version.
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Does it really say 'go over big'? Americans, time to wade in here.
    Yes, I'm not making it up :). See here. I'm not familiar with "go over big" either.

    It wasn't a multiple choice question by the way. The exercise was to fill in the blanks in 'John’s comments on the new film . . . . . . . . . well' using up to 8 words and the word given.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    I hope it's not off-topic to mention a colourful expression we use in BE to describe a joke, or comment that goes down badly. We say that 'it went down like a lead balloon'.
    We have this same expression in the US, except that we say it went over like a lead balloon. This makes more sense to me, as balloons don't normally go down. A lead balloon would certainly go down, wouldn't it? So why would you use it to describe something that "went down badly"?

    Generally speaking, in American English:

    go down = happened
    The police are raiding the crack house. It's going down now!
    go over = was reacted to His speech did not go over well.
    go over big = got a big reaction The announcement that we'd all get a raise went over big at the staff meeting.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top