“I was turned down some 40 times before I was hired at this company!”
This was said by a person who applied for 40 different positions at the same company in different parts of the US. Apparently, he loved that company so much he kept trying until he got it!
I heard this sentence in a speech recently, and thought it was a great example of an idiom that can be commonly and frequently used in corporate communication (as well as in ordinary speech). Let’s look at four definitions of this phrase and possible meanings.
TURN DOWN: REJECT
“He was turned down 40 times before he was hired!”
The phrase ‘turn down’ and it’s forms can be used in terms of hiring or getting a job. This phrase can be used by job hunters, Human Resources (HR) managers, or anyone talking about someone not taking or accepting a job offer. So, in this case, turn down means “to reject something or to be rejected.” It can also be translated as not wanting or desiring something.
Other example sentences inside and outside of work:
1. She was turned down for the promotion. (Meaning: She did not get the promotion.)
2. I will be turning down the team leader role. (Meaning: I will not accept the role./I don’t want the role.)
3. He turns down every offer he is given! (He will not accept any offer!)
4. I’m surprised he turned down the job because he did so well in the interview! (I don’t know why he did not accept the job when he obviously prepared well for the interview.)
4. She turned down a man who asked her out on a date. (She will not go on a date with any man!/She doesn’t want to date anyone.)
5. He keeps on turning down every offer on his house as he wants more money! (He says no to every offer on his house because it’s not enough money.)
TURN DOWN: REDUCE VOLUME
The use of the phrase in this way really only has one meaning- to reduce the volume. Some may use the expanded phrase ‘turn down the volume,’ as well. The opposite of this can also be used, ‘turn up,’ or increase the volume.
Note that the phrases ‘turn up’ and ‘turn down’ cannot be used to ask someone to turn down the volume of their own voice or to be quiet.
Also, in this usage, many prefer to change the phrase slightly to add in what needs to be turned down in between the words ‘turn’ and ‘down.’ For example:
(Another phrase pair which is used in a similar way is ‘turn on’ (switch on) and ‘turn off’ (switch off). I will turn on the lights. I will turn the lights on. I will turn off the computer. I will turn the computer off.)
TURN DOWN: FOLD DOWN
When talking about folding down a collar on a shirt or jacket or folding down sheets on a bed, we can use the term ‘turn down’ as well.
1. Your collar needs to be turned down on the left side. (Please fold your collar down on the left side.)
2. It looks like you forgot to fold your jacket collar down. (Please fold your jacket collar down.)
3. The bed sheets need to be turned down for the guests, especially those staying in a hotel or a motel.
Author, Jennifer Kumar, helps your software teams to communicate better in the U.S. with your American colleagues. Contact us for more information.
Hope you found this post on the meanings of ‘turn down’ useful. Here are some more posts on idioms:
Bite the Bullet
On the Rocks
Buried in Work
All photo credits: Jennifer Kumar, blog owner