What Does ‘Low Life’ Mean?

What does ‘low life’ mean? A low life (also spelled low-life or lowlife) is an individual with low morals or social status that is not accepted by their community; it can also imply the person is not to be trusted, despicable, and/or suspected of criminal activity. This derogatory term is often associated with disapproval of said person and their behavior and a negative, repelling attitude towards the individual considered a low-life.

Plural forms: lowlifes and lowlives.

Origins of the ‘Low Life’ Saying

It’s not yet clear where this expression came from; Dictionary.com declare its first recorded use around 1785-1795¬†http://www.dictionary.com/browse/low-life, while Wikipedia¬†https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-life lists its first use around 1911. Nevertheless, we have found several mentions of this expression throughout history, the oldest one dating back to 1847:

They are now extinguished by the low-life novel; the most intolerable of all earthly realities.

Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine – Volume 62, No. 384, October 1847

‘Low Life” Synonyms & Similar Sayings

  • Social outcast;
  • Vagabond;
  • Black sheep;
  • Scumbag;
  • Freeloader.

Using ‘Low Life’ in a Sentence

“I cannot handle the irresponsibility and constant lying of John anymore, not to mention his demanding attitude; he’s a low life. ”

“It’s difficult for parents to accept their child is becoming a low life; some of them can be so oblivious to self-destructive or attention-seeking behavior.”

“I can’t believe Mark is going to marry that lowlife drug addict after only dating for 2 months! How can he be so blind?”

Reply