Also found in: Financial.
1. To escape; to vanish or disappear. (Not necessarily in a southerly direction.) Everyone in the gang went south when they learned that the police had discovered their hideout.
2. To fall or drop; to depreciate; to lose quality or value. (Especially related to finances or stock exchanges.) The company's stock profile continued going south for the third day in a row today. I used to be a big player in the stock market, but all my investments have gone south lately.
3. To cease working or functioning; to quit, fail, or fall apart. Talks between the labor union and the construction firm went south yesterday, so it looks like workers will be on strike again soon. My computer is only a month old, and it's already gone south.
go southand head South
1. Sl. to make an escape; to disappear. (Not necessarily in a southerly direction.) Lefty went South the minute he got out of the pen. The mugger headed South just after the crime.
2. Sl. to fall; to go down. (Securities markets.) All the stock market indexes went South today. The market headed South today at the opening bell
3. Sl. to quit; to drop out of sight. Fred got discouraged and went South. I think he gave up football permanently. After pulling the bank job, Wilbur went South for a few months.
Deteriorate or decline, as in The stock market is headed south again. This expression is generally thought to allude to compasses and two-dimensional maps where north is up and south is down. However, among some Native Americans, the term was a euphemism for dying, and possibly this sense led to the present usage. [Slang; first half of 1900s] Also see go west.
go Southand head South
1. in. to fall; to go down. (Securities markets. This is a way of saying down. South is usually “down” on a map.) The market headed South today at the opening bell.
2. in. to quit; to drop out of sight. After pulling the bank job, Shorty went South for a few months.
3. in. to make an escape; to disappear. The mugger went South just after the crime.
Fail, go bankrupt, decline. This colloquialism probably alludes to two-dimensional maps where north is up (at the top) and south is down. Another theory is that in some Native Americans’ (Sioux) belief system the term means “to die.” From the first half of the twentieth century on, however, it became particularly common among business writers. For example, “Dorothea’s become involved in some questionable real estate ventures that went south very recently” (David Baldacci, Hour Game, 2004). See also go belly-up.