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down country, adv., n., and adj.

Pronunciation:  (as adverb)
Australian /ˌdæɔn ˈkʌntri/
(as noun and adjective)
Australian /ˈdæɔn ˌkʌntri/
Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: down prep., down adj., country n.
Etymology: Partly < down prep. + country n.,
and partly < down adj. + country n.
Compare earlier upcountry adj.
With the noun compare the earlier homographic form down country   at downs country n., and also earlier upcountry n.
 A. adv.

 1. Chiefly U.S. regional (esp. New England), Australian (now rare), and in South Asia (now rare). In or towards a lower-lying and typically more densely settled country or region. Opposed to upcountry.This word, used in various former British colonies, was especially common in the 19th cent. In the United States, the term originated among settlers of upland regions of the eastern states with reference to the coastal areas from which they had migrated. It is now especially associated with mountainous areas of New England, where it is used with reference to lower-lying parts of the north-eastern United States.

1822   C. M. Sedgwick New-Eng. Tale iii. 44   The father..contented himself with remarking..that he ‘guessed it was easier getting money down country, than it was up on the hills’.
1828   Australian 25 Nov.   The settler was coming down country to appear as an evidence [against three housebreakers], when this cowardly effort was made.
1857   Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. Nov. 609/2   The remainder, after wandering about in the hills..(all possibility of their escaping down country across the Indus being carefully guarded against), have lately been captured, half-starved, in Hazara.
1879   W. J. Barry Up & Down xxiv. 263   I sent her down-country in the coach.
1932   J. Truran Green Mallee 14   Some day we'll get the better o' the scrub an' 'ave a few good years; then we'll be able to go an' live down country.
1955   Antioch Rev. 15 87   Burma's important export commodities, rice and teak, could not be brought down-country to the ports for shipment abroad.
1992   C. McCarthy All Pretty Horses (1993) iv. 225   The country rolled away to the west through..the distant summer storms a hundred miles downcountry to where the cordilleras rose.
2007   Washington Post (Nexis) 1 Apr. b1   One descended from old Vermonter stock, the other a more recent arrival..from down country.

1822—2007(Hide quotations)


 2. New Zealand. On or towards the coastal plain or lowland, esp. of the South Island.

1870   Cromwell Argus (Otago, N.Z.) 7 Sept. 6/3   During the recent heavy floods down-country, a shepherd named M'Bride..was drowned.
1874   A. Bathgate Colonial Exper. x. 135   A dozen or more horses with their pack-saddles empty..were returning down country.
1945   N.Z. Geographer 1 i. 36   They can make a better ‘do’ of it than on a mixed farm down-country.
1986   Southland (N.Z.) Times 29 July 19   He was puzzled why any kea would be found so far down-country.
2016   Press (Christchurch, N.Z.) (Nexis) 29 July 10   Downcountry they are probably doing a bit [of lambing], but there are not a lot of numbers.

1870—2016(Hide quotations)

 B. n.

 1. Chiefly U.S. regional (esp. New England), Australian, and in South Asia. A lower-lying and typically more densely settled country or region. Opposed to upcountry. Now rare.

1823   J. F. Cooper Pioneers I. v. 60   To them, the road, that made the most rapid approaches to the condition of the old, or, as they expressed it, the down countries, was the most pleasant.
1826   Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.) 2 Mar.   Hey you Meister yankee dare! Who is the Kuffernor ub your down country, where you come from?
1838   Sydney Monitor 11 June   The wholesale plundering of spirit casks by the carriers and other persons employed in the conveyance of goods for the ‘down country’.
1869   Mrs W. M. Howell Diggings & Bush 253   At last we came to the Blue Mountains. They form the boundary between ‘up the country’ and the ‘down country’.
1992   Washington Post 3 May e5/2   From this perch I looked out over a panorama that must have taken in most of South Carolina's ‘downcountry’.

1823—1992(Hide quotations)


 2. New Zealand. Chiefly with the. Coastal plain or lowland, spec. that of the South Island. Opposed to high country. Now rare.

1904   ‘G. B. Lancaster’ Sons o' Men 192 (heading)    In the down-country [i.e. in Christchurch].
1940   E. C. Studholme Te Waimate (1954) xiii. 113   At Waimate we ran cross-bred sheep on the down-country and Merinos or half-breds on the hills.
2013   Press (Christchurch, N.Z.) (Nexis) 13 Sept. 15   The lambing beat officially starts today for the hill and high country, and farmers there have watched lambs in the down country come through with a good run.

1904—2013(Hide quotations)

 C. adj.

 1. Chiefly U.S. regional (esp. New England), Australian, and in South Asia. Of, relating to, or situated in a lower-lying and typically more densely settled country or region.In quot. 1827   perhaps: of or situated in the southern or more rural part of a region.

1827   Amer. Watchman & Delaware Advertiser 9 Oct.   The stubborn independence of the down country people who would not submit to be dictated to and ‘improved’ by a ‘set of political gamblers’.
1832   Sydney Gaz. 2 Feb.   The small settler..is completely shut out from the Sydney market; and, oh, ye down-country settlers! little ken ye of the toils and perplexities attending such an undertaking!
1896   H. A. Bryden Tales S. Afr. iii. 68   You know I don't..spout tall yarns for the benefit of down-country folks or bar loafers at Kimberley.
1901   R. Kipling Kim xiii. 353   Who ever heard of these Sahibs coming into the hills without a down-country cook?
1931   A. Hannum Thursday April 18   His movements carried a directness and sureness which bespoke the tempering of down-country training.
1979   B. Hardy World owes me Nothing 32   He was a big shot from one of those down-country schools.
2000   N.Y. Times 30 July (Travel section) tr23/1   Our down-country friends would trade in their theater tickets..to watch the sun set over the mountains.

1827—2000(Hide quotations)


 2. New Zealand. Of, relating to, or situated in the coastal plain or lowland, esp. of the South Island.

1867   Otago Daily Times (N.Z.) 24 Feb.   The Wakatip Jockey Club have at last published their programme..we can reasonably hope now to see some down-country horses on the course.
1904   Evening Post (Wellington, N.Z.) 1 Oct. 12/7   During the past fortnight lambing has been pretty general on the down-country farms in Southland.
1950   N.Z. Jrnl. Agric. Oct. 356/3   The breed of sheep on Gleneray [high-country sheep-run] is Romney type..and it is attractive to the down-country farmer when no longer suitable for the run.
1999   J. White in J. White & J. Hodgson N.Z. Pasture & Crop Sci. i. 6/2   The..introduction of refrigeration in 1882 resulted in a move to frozen meat production on down-country stations.
2013   Press (Christchurch, N.Z.) (Nexis) 5 July 9   Snow..is disappearing fast as nor'west winds speed up the thaw in the high country and dry out sodden down country farms.

1867—2013(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, December 2018).

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