seen better days

have seen better days

To be or look particularly shabby, ill-kept, or in poor condition. Wow, this car has seen better days. What'd you do, drive it through a minefield? The poor guy who runs the building has certainly seen better days, but he's a sweet fellow.
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seen (or known) better days

be in a worse state than in the past; have become old, worn-out, or shabby.
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seen better days

tv. showing signs of wear or exhaustion. (Always a past participle.) This coat has seen better days.
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seen better days, to have

To have declined, to have become less prosperous, more worn, and the like. This term was first used by Shakespeare to describe a decline of fortune; Timon’s steward, Flavius, says to his servants, “Let’s shake our heads, and say, as ’twere a knell unto our master’s fortunes, ‘We have seen better days’” (Timon of Athens, 4.2). Sir Walter Scott used it to describe aging (The Lay of the Last Minstrel, 1805): “His wither’d cheek and tresses grey seem’d to have known a better day.” We still use it to describe, for example, a piece of worn-out furniture (“This couch has seen better days”).
See also: better, have, seen
References in classic literature ?
"Well, I have heard once or twice, 'tis true, that my family had seen better days afore they came to Blackmoor.
The crowd filed up the aisles: the aged and needy postmaster, who had seen better days; the mayor and his wife -- for they had a mayor there, among other unnecessaries; the justice of the peace; the widow Douglass, fair, smart, and forty, a generous, good-hearted soul and well-to-do, her hill mansion the only palace in the town, and the most hospitable and much the most lavish in the matter of festivities that St.
I can only tell you she has seen better days; she is an educated person; and she may like my society on that account.
You were, I am told, a manufacturer; I am an artist; I have seen better days; I have moved in societies where you would not be received, and dined where you would be glad to pay a pound to see me dining.
“He appears reluctant to converse on his former situation,” continued Marmaduke “but I gathered from his discourse, as is apparent from his manner, that he has seen better days; and I am really inclining to the opinion of Richard, as to his origin; for it was no unusual thing for the Indian agents to rear their children in a laudable manner, and—”
a carpet that had seen better days; a melancholy washstand in a
My parents are in business, and my mamma has seen better days, and mixed in the best of company."
Arthur was clad in his plainest clothes, and wrapped in a coarse woollen shawl; and Rachel was muffled in a grey cloak and hood that had seen better days, and gave her more the appearance of an ordinary though decent old woman, than of a lady's-maid.
There was a small window there, which let in, through its dingy, dusty panes, a scanty, uncertain light on the tall, high-backed chairs and dusty tables, that had once seen better days. Altogether, it was a weird and ghostly place; but, ghostly as it was, it wanted not in legends among the superstitious negroes, to increase it terrors.
Preserve me from people who have seen better days, and bring heirlooms with them that make the house smell stuffy.
Tisher: a deferential widow with a weak back, a chronic sigh, and a suppressed voice, who looks after the young ladies' wardrobes, and leads them to infer that she has seen better days. Perhaps this is the reason why it is an article of faith with the servants, handed down from race to race, that the departed Tisher was a hairdresser.
She was the daughter of a superior couple who had seen better days.
She lives with her mother, a faded tired woman who played Lady Capulet in a sort of magenta dressing-wrapper on the first night, and looks as if she had seen better days."
The retinue of Earl Dorm was not strong numerically--the household being, to judge from appearances, one that had seen better days; but it struck Agravaine that what it lacked in numbers it made up in toughness.
Her dress was modest and simple to a degree, dark and elderly in style; but both her face and appearance gave evidence that she had seen better days.