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down the line, adv., adj., and n.

Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: down prep., the adj., line n.2
 A. adv.

 1. All the way along a particular line; at every point or stage; to the end. Frequently preceded by all.In quot. c1405: down the line of descent.

c1405  (c1395)    Chaucer Wife of Bath's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 1108   If gentilesse were planted naturelly Vn to a certeyn lynage doun the lyne..thanne wolde they neuere fyne To doon of gentilesse the faire office.
1840   Times 20 Oct. 6/4   I think there should be men stationed at certain distances all down the line, as on the Birmingham road, to give information.
1906   School Jrnl. 29 Sept. 288/1   Do this daily, constantly, persistently, for three months—only three months—it is all I ask. The infallible result?—victory, victory all down the line.
1909   Senatorial Primary Investig. 522   I am afraid if we pursue that way with each candidate all down the line, we will all be sorry for it when we get through.
1910   Oxnard (Calif.) Daily Courier 10 Oct.   The rank and file of the Republican voters in Venture county, have decided that the primary election was the place to determine the county officials that are wanted by the Republicans of the county and they are going to support them right down the line.
1962   Listener 15 Mar. 469/2   The view of many present-day mathematicians who would want to overhaul our methods all down the line.
1995   G. Fuller in M. Leigh Naked & Other Screenplays p. xix   That's what has really motivated me right down the line, even when I was at school.
2017   Miami Times 22 Nov. d9/3   Then, with a flourish, the cheerleaders, one at a time down the line, switched from raised fist to bent knee, like a row of falling dominoes.

c1405—2017(Hide quotations)


 a. (At a point) further along the line.

1840   Observer 6 Dec.   Simpson pulled up after having passed over the signal, which had been hoisted because one of the metals was off the rail further down the line.
1898   F. Montgomery Tony 11   A few stations down the line.
1949   W. Given Bottom-up Managem. i. 3   Under ‘bottom up’ management the head of a business tries to release the thinking and encourage the initiative of all those down the line.
1995   N. Whittaker Platform Souls (1996) ii. 29   The best way to get there, he told us, was on a local train to Dunstall Park, one stop down the line.
2010   Philadelphia Tribune (Electronic ed.) 12 Nov. c6   Meanwhile, about 200 miles down the line at Mingo Yard, Frank Barnes.., a veteran engineer, is charged with training new conductor Will Colson.

1840—2010(Hide quotations)


 b. figurative. In the future; at a later date.

1929   Altoona (Pa.) Mirror 15 Feb. 32/1   A couple of years down the line showed teams winning at home and losing away.
1962   Listener 1 Mar. 364/2   To others the risk is rather that consultative arrangements down the line may reinforce industry's very British predilection for cosy little get-togethers.
2011   Independent 12 Oct. 13/5   Two years down the line, I had given up work and was told there was nothing more that could be done for me.

1929—2011(Hide quotations)


 3. Shooting. According to the down the line method of clay pigeon shooting: see sense B. 1. Now rare.

1898   Country Gentleman 16 July 923/1   A scratch competition at five birds down the line and five at unknown traps was won by Mr. Ellicott with 10 straight.
1935   Scotsman 25 Mar. 26/5   The next event was over 25 birds, shooting down the line from the automatic trap.
1950   Irish Times 5 June 3/4   Gold Cup (100 birds down the line).
1983   C. Cradock Man. Clayshooting i. 3   Each competitor shot ‘down the line’.

1898—1983(Hide quotations)

 B. adj.

 1. British. Shooting. Designating a method of clay pigeon shooting in which each member of a group of participants shoots from one of a semicircle of firing positions at a series of clays released from a central trap, after which each moves to the neighbouring firing position; competing in this discipline.

1911   Encycl. Sport & Games (new ed.) IV. 147/1   The order is the same as in ordinary down-the-line shooting, but, when No. 5 has fired, No. 1..takes his next bird, and so on.
1937   Irish Times 15 May 13/3   Proceedings started with down the line shooting, 200 birds.
1972   Shooting Times 27 May 9/1   Down-the-Line shooters take some stick, these days. But the average DTL competitor seems to take a greater pride in his appearance than do many sporting shooters.
2003   Northern Echo 10 Oct. 1   Eight years later, still a welder, he was in the English down the line shooting team; now he's a crack shot at universal trench, one of six principal clay shooting disciplines.

1911—2003(Hide quotations)


 2. In form down-the-line. Of a supporter or support: out-and-out, unequivocal, unwavering.

1926   Chehalis (Washington) Bee-Nugget 10 Sept. 1/4   Other candidates are Wm. Scales of Centralis, avowed down-the-line supporter of Governor Hartley last session of the legislature.
1962   Economist 9 June 1000/1   Mr. Yarborough described himself as a ‘down-the-line supporter’ of President Kennedy.
1992   N.Y. Times 28 June i16/1   The party platform..avoids some of the conventional liberal positions advocated by the Democrats since the New Deal, like down-the-line support of labor unions and promises of vastly increased social welfare.
1998   Newsweek 25 May 64C/3   Sinatra remained a down-the-line Democrat until 1970, when he supported Reagan's bid for re-election as governor.

1926—1998(Hide quotations)

 C. n.

  British. Shooting. A method of clay pigeon shooting in which each member of a group of participants shoots from one of a semicircle of firing positions at a series of clays released from a central trap, after which each moves to the neighbouring firing position.

1958   R. Arnold Automatic & Repeating Shotguns ii. 46   In the United States the bolt-action has given excellent results at both Down-the-line and Skeet.
2000   Clay Shooting Jan. 9/1   Caroline Blankhorn has only been shooting for three years, having started with Sporting and then discovering her real love Down The Line.
2013   T. Wieland Shooter's Guide Shotguns 174/1   In England, trap shooting is called ‘down the line’ or DTL, to differentiate it from pigeon shooting.

1958—2013(Hide quotations)


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

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