the thumbs up/down

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thumbs down

A sign or indication of disapproval. The phrase can refer to the actual gesture, which carries the same meaning, or can be used figuratively. I know the committee approved our idea, but the CEO ultimately gave it the thumbs down. Getting a thumbs down to yet another college application has really disheartened me.
See also: down, thumb

thumbs up

A sign or indication of approval. The phrase can refer to the actual gesture, which carries the same meaning, or can be used figuratively. I loved that movie so much. I would definitely give it the thumbs up! We got a thumbs up to proceed with our plan. I assumed Paul was OK with our plan. When I told him about it, he just gave a thumbs up.
See also: thumb, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

thumbs down

 
1. a sign of disapproval. The board gave our proposal a thumbs down. The administration's tax bill got a thumbs down in Congress.
2. disapproving; negative. It was thumbs down, and I was disappointed. The thumbs-down decision was a victory for good sense.
See also: down, thumb

thumbs up

 
1. a sign of approval. It was a thumbs up on the new filtration plant at Thursday's village board meeting. There was no thumbs up for the mayor as she faced certain defeat in today's balloting.
2. approving; positive. The new filtration plant got a thumbs-up decision at the board meeting. A thumbs-up vote assured another three years of financial assistance.
See also: thumb, up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

thumbs up

An expression of approval or hopefulness, as in The town said thumbs up on building the elderly housing project. The antonym thumbs down indicates disapproval or rejection, as in Mother gave us thumbs down on serving beer at our party. Alluding to crowd signals used in Roman amphitheaters, these idioms were first recorded in English about 1600. In ancient times the meaning of the gestures was opposite that of today. Thumbs down indicated approval; thumbs up, rejection. Exactly when the reversal occurred is not known, but the present conventions were established by the early 1900s.
See also: thumb, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

thumbs up (or down)

an indication of satisfaction or approval (or of rejection or failure). informal
The thumbs were used to signal approval or disapproval by spectators at a Roman amphitheatre, though they used ‘thumbs down’ to signify that a beaten gladiator had performed well and should be spared, and ‘thumbs up’ to call for his death.
See also: thumb, up
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

(give somebody/something/get) the thumbs ˈup/ˈdown

used to show that something has been accepted/rejected or that it is/is not a success: I asked him whether I could borrow the car, and he gave me the thumbs up.I’m afraid it’s thumbs down for your new proposal — the boss doesn’t like it.We’ve got the thumbs up for the new swimming pool.In contests in ancient Rome the public put their thumbs up if they wanted a gladiator to live, and down if they wanted him to be killed.
See also: down, thumb, up
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

thumbs down

1. n. a sign of disapproval. (see also turn thumbs down (on someone/something).) The board gave our proposal a thumbs down.
2. mod. disapproving; negative. It was thumbs down, and I was disappointed.
See also: down, thumb

thumbs up

1. n. a sign of approval. It was a thumbs up on the new filtration plant at Thursday’s village board meeting.
2. mod. approving; positive. The new filtration plant got a thumbs up decision at the board meeting.
See also: thumb, up
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
"The baby was giving us the thumbs up. We couldn't believe it.
It is set to get the thumbs up from fans after the unpopular off-white and green change shirts of old were ditched.
In a state-of-the-art poll, carried out by e-mail in the hours after the Dail event, 80 per cent of the Institute of Chartered Accounts signalled the thumbs ups.