dumb down


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dumb down

1. To make something less complex, nuanced, or intellectually challenging, typically in order to make the content more appealing or accessible to a wider audience. A noun or pronoun can be used between "dumb" and "down." The first film was a real exploration of the human psyche, but they dumbed down the second film into a generic horror film. I think there are ways we can make the story resonate with the audience without dumbing it down. I think we ought to dumb the play down a bit. After all, most of the people coming to see it won't have a PhD in drama.
2. To change a fictional character, as in a TV show or film series, to be or seem less intelligent than depicted previously. A noun or pronoun can be used between "dumb" and "down." They dumbed his character down in later seasons, turning him into a total goofball for cheap laughs.
See also: down, dumb
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

dumb down

v. Slang
To simplify something excessively in order to make it suitable for a less educated or less sophisticated audience: The researchers dumbed down the report before releasing it to the public.
See also: down, dumb
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

dumb down, to

To simplify or otherwise revise in order to appeal to someone of less education, taste, or intelligence. This slangy expression dates from the first half of the 1900s. Publishers Weekly used it in a review of The Business of Books by André Schiffrin: “. . . the attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator of taste, which has, he says, led network television and movies in such depressing directions, has dumbed down publishing to an alarming degree” (Aug. 21, 2000).
See also: dumb, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
But Hollywood's "entertainment" fare also serves to distract and dumb down the public, both intellectually and morally (page 38).
It sounds suspiciously like the Natural History Unit has been told to dumb down.
I've been told I have not to dumb down. I've been in too many silly pictures."
Television, it goes without saying, has been a leader of the race to dumb down, but even this frequently reckless medium managed to plunge to new levels in recent days.
Current government standards dumb down encryption so much that a pedestrian computer hacker could crack the toughest codes allowed in a few hours.
'I thought you'd either have to dumb down because they're children, in which case it wouldn't be Mastermind.
But is that a good enough reason to dumb down further by abandoning our second city?