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Related to down-at-heel: dug in their heels, dig in his heels
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Having a worn out, shabby, or cheap appearance, as due to poverty or overuse. A lot of so-called hipsters try to affect a down-at-heel look, a sort of "shabby-chic" appearance out of second-hand clothing. John has been looking increasingly down-at-heel ever since he lost his job last year.




COMMON A down-at-heel person or place looks untidy or in bad condition. He had two rooms above a down-at-heel shop. When I was a down-at-the-heels detective, I couldn't afford to eat here. Note: The image here is of a person wearing shoes with worn-down heels because they do not have the money to repair or replace them.

down at heel

1 (of a shoe) with the heel worn down. 2 (of a person, place, or thing) with a poor, shabby appearance.
See also: down, heel

ˌdown at ˈheel

(of somebody’s appearance) looking poor: Since he lost his job, he has begun to look rather down at heel.
This idiom refers to the worn heels of old shoes.
See also: down, heel
References in periodicals archive ?
Knowles visited New York's Phoenix House for the research and was moved to tears as she watched down-at-heel drug abusers go through detox misery after hitting rock bottom at the Phoenix House centre in Brooklyn, New York.
It hardly mattered the actors laboured with the high notes - it seemed almost fitting for the parts of the down-at-heel comrades.
Albert Park manager, Stuart Johnston, said: "The days when our parks where tired, down-at-heel and uninviting are long gone.
The city centre was at that point slipping into a down-market, down-at-heel place.
The cult Channel 4 comedy series was written by the brilliant Peter Kay, who also played the starring role as Brian Potter, proprietor of a down-at-heel northern working men's club.
Glyn Williams, the vice-chair of Holyhead Chamber of Trade, said the town has been down-at-heel for many years as it has failed to take advantage of the number of visitors using the port.
Ushering the visitor into the main gallery space was another customized down-at-heel stick of furniture, Lucia Nogueira's Untitled, 1992, made up of two buckled shelves, three nails, and a pushpin.
It was a converted carpet store in a down-at-heel West Palm Beach neighborhood.
It tells the story of down-at-heel Bunnington WI, where dwindling membership means they can barely afford the hall, let alone a decent speaker.
The focus is Junior, a big-haired youngster who lives in a down-at-heel apartment outside Caracas with his infant brother and embittered mother.
A 4200-plus sell-out Shielfield plays host to the down-at-heel Old Firm giants - kick off is at noon, for television purposes - after Berwick held Ally McCoist's men to a 1-1 home draw in August, before losing 4-2 at Ibrox in January.
30PM SOUTHAMPTON boss Alan Pardew has plenty of sympathy for down-at-heel neighbours Portsmouth - but that will not extend onto the pitch in today's FA Cup clash.
PAUL WELLER - LIVE AT THE BBC SOME will be daunted by the amount on offer here - there's four CDs - but rather than being extraneous, such a wealth of music offers a clear insight into Weller's transition from down-at-heel musician, still licking his wounds from The Style Council's demise, to where he stands now.
Following a down-at-heel performance at the world premiere in New York - where he turned up wearing muddy shoes, right - it seems Depp had decided to invest in a brush and some Cherry Blossom.
Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H Corbett played which two down-at-heel TV comedy relatives?