Double Down: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 24, 2023

The phrase "double down" is one intriguing idiom in English that's been frequently used in both everyday conversations and professional contexts. This idiom generally implies strengthening one's commitment or persisting with an approach or strategy, even in the face of difficulty or risk. It’s as if you’re saying, “I believe so strongly in my decision that I’m willing to increase my risk!”

In short:

  • "Double down" simply means to become more determined or firm in one's decision or strategy, especially when facing challenges or resistance.
  • It's like showing more commitment to your stance, even when others question or oppose it.

What Does "Double Down" Mean?

The term "double down" suggests being firm and persistent. It's used when you strengthen your dedication to a specific task or choice, especially during challenges or after an initial setback. This expression represents a strong commitment to a decision and the determination not to give up.

Let's delve into its core meanings and usage:

  • "Double down" refers to enhancing one's efforts or dedication to a cause or decision, especially when met with adversity or skepticism.
  • Often used in the face of challenges or setbacks, this idiom highlights the idea of persevering and maintaining your stance, regardless of the circumstances.
  • You can use "double down" when discussing the intensification of efforts or the strengthening of commitment. For example, a business might "double down" on a marketing strategy, even if initial results were not as expected, believing that persistence will eventually pay off.
  • Similar expressions to "double down" include "digging your heels in," "standing your ground," and "sticking to your guns."

Where Does "Double Down" Come From?

The term "double down" has its roots in the world of gambling, specifically in the game of Blackjack. In Blackjack, to "double down" is to double your initial bet after seeing your first two cards, with the catch that you must stand after receiving exactly one more card. The term gradually extended its meaning beyond the casino, symbolizing any situation where someone decides to increase their commitment or risk.

Historical Example

"Player can double down on any first two cards. Most times it'll be a ten or eleven, sometimes a soft hand."

- Greg Miller, Snapper, 1973

10 Examples of "Double Down" in Sentences

To give you a better understanding of when to use this idiom, let's go through some examples from various situations:

  • Despite the challenges of the market, the tech giant decided to double down on its innovative strategy.
  • If you plan to double down on this initiative, count me as a dedicated team member.
  • In the face of climate change, we need to double down on our efforts toward sustainable practices.
  • He knew how to double down on his words and rile up the crowd. He was a master of persuasion.
  • The team doubled down on their training regimen after their unexpected loss in the tournament.
  • The CEO doubled down on his commitment to improving workplace culture, despite resistance from some executives.
  • He decided to err on the side of caution and not double down on his bet. He had already lost enough.
  • They doubled down on their threat, warning him that snitches get stitches.
  • He doubled down on his decision, setting a precedent for future cases.
  • The new policy will go into effect next week, and the government is doubling down on its enforcement.

Examples of "Double Down" in Pop Culture

The phrase "double down" is regularly used in pop culture, often indicating an intensified commitment or effort despite adversities.

Here are a few instances:

  • "Double Down" is a book written by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, which details the 2012 U.S. presidential election and the strategies employed by both sides.
  • "Double Down" is also a movie released in 2005, directed by Neil Breen. It’s a science fiction drama where the protagonist has to double down on his efforts to prevent a terrorist attack.
  • "Double Down" is a popular sandwich sold by KFC. Here, the term is used to signify the restaurant's commitment to providing a meaty experience by substituting bread with two chicken fillets.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Double Down"

Several other expressions carry a similar sentiment to "double down."

Here are some of them:

  • Reinforce your stance
  • Intensify efforts
  • Strengthen commitment
  • Stick to your guns
  • Uphold your position
  • Bolster your approach
  • Stand your ground
  • Redouble your efforts
  • Hold firm on your decision
  • Double your bet

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Double Down":

  • What does "double down" mean?

The phrase "double down" originates from gambling and particularly from the game of blackjack, where it refers to the decision to double the original bet in exchange for committing to stand after receiving exactly one more card. In general use, it means to strengthen one's commitment to a particular strategy or course of action, often in response to opposition or difficulty.

  • How can I use "double down" in a sentence?

You can use "double down" in a sentence to signify intensifying efforts or reinforcing commitment. For instance, "It was no mean feat to double down on her investment, but she was confident it would pay off."

  • Is "double down" an American idiom?

Yes, "double down" is an American idiom that comes from the popular casino game blackjack.

  • Can "double down" be used in a non-business context?

Yes, "double down" can be used in a variety of contexts, not just business. It can be applied anytime someone wants to emphasize an increased commitment or intensified effort toward something.

  • Does "double down" imply a risk?

Originally in blackjack, doubling down did imply a risk, as it involved potentially losing twice your original bet. In common usage, however, "doubling down" does not necessarily imply risk, but it does suggest a strong commitment to a course of action.

  • Does "double down" mean to repeat something?

No, "double down" doesn't mean to repeat something. Instead, it refers to reinforcing one's commitment or efforts, often in response to adversity or opposition.

  • What's the opposite of "double down"?

The opposite of "double down" could be phrases like "backing off," "giving up," "retreating," or "changing course."

  • Can "double down" mean to defend something?

Yes, "double down" can imply defending something, especially when it refers to strengthening one's position or commitment in response to criticism or opposition.

  • Does "double down" always refer to an increase in effort or resources?

While "double down" generally indicates an increase in effort or resources, it more specifically refers to an increased commitment or determination in a particular strategy or course of action.

  • Is "double down" used in formal communication?

While "double down" originated in the context of casual language, it has been increasingly adopted in formal communication, especially in the fields of business, politics, and media.

Final Thoughts About "Double Down"

"Double down" is a versatile idiom that captures the essence of fortifying one's position, intensifying efforts, or reinforcing commitment to a certain course of action. It is a powerful phrase that signifies determination and resolve, often in the face of opposition or adversity.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Double down" typically indicates a strengthened commitment to a course of action or strategy.
  • While it originated from the gambling world, it is now widely used in many contexts, including business, politics, and everyday conversation.
  • "Double down" doesn't necessarily mean doubling resources or efforts but signifies a heightened commitment or resolve.

Whether in personal life, business strategies, or political debates, the phrase "double down" is often used to communicate an intensified commitment to a chosen path, demonstrating tenacity and resilience even in the face of opposition or difficulty.

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