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The meaning and origin of the expression: Down at heel

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Down at heel

Meaning

Impoverished.

Origin

The wearing of shoes with worn down heels is a mark of destitution. The phrase is first recorded in Edition 10 of William Darrell's A gentleman instructed in the conduct of a virtuous and happy life, 1732:

"Sneak into a corner ... down at heels and out at elbows."