reduce (one) to (doing something)
To cause, force, or bring one to perform some humble, unbefitting, or undignified action or behavior. Often used in passive constructions. I can't believe I was reduced to begging for my job when they threatened to fire me. Those idiotic lawmen will never reduce me to pleading for my life.
reduce (one) to (something)
To bring one to a lesser or worse state than they are typically in. Poverty reduced him to homelessness for a brief period of time.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. To decrease something to some level: The drought reduced the stream to a trickle.
2. To bring someone to some humbler, weaker, difficult, or forced state or condition: The illness had reduced them almost to emaciation. The sight of her mother reduced her to tears. The army reduced him from a command post to a desk job.
3. To bring someone to such a humble, weak, or desperate state or condition that he or she does something drastic: The Depression reduced many to begging on the street.
4. To damage or destroy something, leaving it in some lesser state: The blaze reduced the warehouse to ashes.
5. To make something shorter and simpler; summarize something: Their entire business philosophy can be reduced to "The customer is always right."
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.