(we have/are three models) down


Senior Member
(Material Girl- British TV drama)

Ali, who was a fashion designer and was busy with her fashion show, said, "We are three models down, nobody fits the shoes, and there are an outfit and a half still at the airport. And we are 44 minute late."

A man responded, "I know, I don't like it. It's going too well. Never mind. I am sure that Davina will manage to create a crisis."

What does down mean here? I think it means totally. We have a total of 3 models now.

Sorry, so many entries for down in the dictionary that I am lost.
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Since there are four items in the list -- models, shoes, outfit and time -- and three of them are negative, I imagine that "three models down" is also a negative. So it probably means that they are understaffed by three models. If you need 10 models and you only have seven, then you're three models down (down from the number you should have).

    Having said that, I would expect: We are three models down. And then you have a character saying that everything is going so well. So that's a bit confusing. :confused: Perhaps he's being ironic.

    Edit: I just found this:
    TV Review: Material Girl – BBC1
    "WE'RE three models down, nobody fits the shoes, and there's an outfit and a half still at the airport," said designer Ali during a stressful catwalk show at Paris Fashion Week.

    So we've cleared up the "are" part and my suggestion about being three models short still stands. And there's no further quotation about the other man's response. Are you sure it's transcribed properly, with no breaks?
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    Senior Member
    Hello Copyright,

    Thank you very very very much for taking time to find out the correct script and help me out.

    Is it a common way to use "down" to say how many staff we are in shortage?

    Is down an adverb? Which entry do you think it is fit for this context in the dictionary as the following URL link directs?


    If I have 200 USD only, but an air ticket costs 300 USD, can I say I am 100 USD down?


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I think it is common to say We are three packs of paper down meaning we have three less than we expected in the delivery.

    I don't think this exact usage is represented in the freedictionary page you quoted.

    If I have 200 USD only, but an air ticket costs 300 USD, can I say I am 100 USD down?
    I wouldn't use it in that way. For me, "I am 100 USD down" would mean rather that I had 300 before, but now I only have 200.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    To me it sounds military: we're three men down if three men have been killed or injured; it can also be applied to helicopters or tanks, and I think from there it's been picked up in common use. 'Three models down' draws on the military imagery (it's a crisis in there), but for packs of paper I'd say we're three packs short if they're missing or have disappeared, three packs down if it's compared to what we used to have - three packs have been used up since yesterday, perhaps.

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think it is common too but I am finding it hard to explain the difference between being short of something and being down on something.

    "....how many staff we are in shortage?" This is not idiomatic Daffodil. We would say "...are we short (of) ?". "We are short of models/staff/money/time/patience etc"

    I'd guess they booked as many models as they needed, but for some reason three of them couldn't come.

    I suggest we use 'short' when we don't have as much as we need, and 'down' when we have less than we had or less than we expected
    So in your example I would say I am $100 short of the $200 I need for the air ticket. If I had a shop that had taken $40,000 last week but only $20,000 this week, I would say "The takings are 50% down ( from last week)/less than last week". If they had increased, I would say "The takings are up on last week's".

    The closest meaning given in your link is #11 - "lacking a specific amount" but that sounds more like "short" to me.

    I'd say 'down' and 'short' are so -called adverbs when used like this. Adverbs can modify nouns and adjectives too. There's probably a more modern term.

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