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I recently came across a situation where something was decreasing rapidly. My friend was led to say:

The price of fuel has really skyrocketed downwards lately.

Something about this statement sounded wrong. Surely a skyrocket must always go up, by definition.

What would be a more suitable word or phrase to describe something that is decreasing rapidly?

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General Reference. Wiktionary: plummet; Merriam-Webster: nose-dive, plummet, plunge. – Kris Oct 10 '12 at 13:27
Do people agree that "skyrocketing downwards" is not correct? What about merely rocketing downwards"? – Urbycoz Oct 10 '12 at 13:30
"Skyrocketed downwards" is awkward, but understandable. Whether it's "correct" or not depends on what you mean by "correct". Same thing for "rocketing downwards", mostly because we don't usually use the verb form like that. – Marthaª Oct 10 '12 at 13:41
"Skyyyrockets in flight. Afternoon delight!" – Izkata Oct 10 '12 at 17:52
Free fall - "The price of fuel is in a full on free fall lately." – Jon Hess Oct 10 '12 at 23:07
up vote 111 down vote accepted


  1. Fall or drop straight down at high speed.
  2. Decrease rapidly in value or amount.
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As Joost mentioned, "plummeted" is more applicable as the context is about finance and pricing with respect to your question. – Sameer Patil Oct 10 '12 at 13:47
I've loved this word ever since the immortal lines "Now witness their attempts to fly from tree to tree. Notice they do not so much fly as plummet." (Monty Python, Flying Sheep) – Tim Pietzcker Oct 11 '12 at 8:31
@TimPietzcker : +1 My first thoughts on reading the question! – Peter K. Oct 11 '12 at 12:54

The price of fuel has taken a nose-dive.

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Or just "nose-dived". – Daniel Roseman Oct 10 '12 at 13:42
+1 for being the closest to the flying metaphor used by skyrocket. – KRyan Oct 10 '12 at 18:45

Tanked is likely an option.

The price of fuel has tanked in recent weeks.

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Tanked is a great word to use if you're writing a catchy headline for this event, because it creates a fuel-related pun. – Kaz Oct 10 '12 at 16:41
Headline: "The price of fuel tanks" Reader:"The price of fuel tanks does WHAT?!?!" – Jimmy Oct 10 '12 at 23:59
Any attention to a headline is good attention. :) – Kaz Oct 11 '12 at 0:06

I'm not sure there is a direct equivalent but the normal phrase used in that situation is

The price of fuel has plummeted recently.


The price of fuel has gone through the floor lately.

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I see "plummet" way more often. – Ekevoo Oct 11 '12 at 17:06

Crashed is another contender, and if you're looking for something a little more idiomatic you could say it's dropped like a stone.

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And when it is irretrievable, crashed and burned. – bib Oct 11 '12 at 15:39

I'd be perfectly comfortable with plunged, e.g.

The price at the pump has plunged since OPEC met.

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In keeping with the space-themed metaphor, the opposite of skyrocketed would be cratered. However, that suggests that the fall is catastrophic and perhaps unrecoverable, which may not be the connotation you are looking for if you are talking about the price of fuel.

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Lead balloon is nice but does not really work as an adjective. Lead Balloned does not quite roll off the tongue.

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protected by RegDwigнt Oct 10 '12 at 15:33

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