I’m down

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Senior Member
Hi, everybody,
Could you please help with a difficulty in the novel by Adrian McKinty "Fifty Grand"?
Here are adjacent phrases:

The bed sags and I lay the mattress on the floor. Sleep comes like a guillotine. And I’m down. No bad dreams, no dreams at all.

I've seen a thread "I'm down" but it seems here I have some special meaning of the expression. Is It "I don't resist (oppose)" [to sleep]? Or "I am prostrated" (as if the body of the executed)?
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think the allusion is to a guillotine - sudden and swift. The guillotine comes down quickly. Similarly the person falls asleep immediately. 'I'm down' is not a standard or idiomatic expression for falling asleep.

    Edit: Cross-posted with Copyright. :)


    Senior Member
    English-British and U.S.
    'I'm down,' in this context, means the person is 'knocked out.' Sleep came to the person fast. It came like a guillotine...I like to think of how quickly la guillotine descends after it's let go.

    If you think of how fast that is and just replace the guillotine with sleep, then you'd have an idea of how sleep just took him.

    It seems this posted after natkretep's
    comment so I'm 'cross-posting' with her as I think we said almost the same thing.
    Last edited:


    American English
    It seems to me that I have heard of Americans putting their children "down" meaning to put them to bed and get them to sleep. This would be a slightly different usage of "down" = "asleep."

    Yes, I know that to put a horse down means to kill it. I think I remember the application to children because of this incongruity.
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