A Peace Corps volunteer started a credit union requiring people receiving a new home to put down community references in lieu of collateral. These references were friends, family members, or neighbors who could vouch that the applicants would pay the loan. The decision to create these arrangement was based on microfinance – the idea that people would be more likely to default on their own possessions than to compromise their reputation in the community and let their community down […]"

I'm quite confused as to the meaning of "put down" on this sentence. I thought it could mean "down payment", but you can't put down a person…

And collateral is something the person owns that serves as a guarantee, but if it's part of the a down payment, it's no longer a guarantee.

So I don't think put down really means make a down payment. Could somebody please explain how this system works and what "put down" means in this sentence?

  • 1
    It is likely referring to to pay part of the cost of something and agree to pay the rest later where instead you put a list of referrals down (on the table)
    – mplungjan
    Jul 15 '13 at 11:44

Put down does have a meaning write down which could easily extend to nominate or register in this case. See definition 29 at Dictionary.com:

29. put down
a. to write down; register; record.
b. to enter in a list, as of subscribers or contributors: Put me down for a $10 donation.

What you don't want is another standard sense — which could be applied to humans, I suppose:

k. to put (an animal) to death; put away.

  • but with "put down" it means to register community members as a guarantee?
    – Maria M.
    Jul 15 '13 at 12:39
  • I would certainly take it to mean "write down to register them".
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 15 '13 at 12:39
  • It is very likely a play on words. Make a downpayment OR make a list of referrals.
    – mplungjan
    Jul 15 '13 at 12:48
  • I agree with @mplungjan. Normally, you would put down a deposit of money - here you are putting down (depositing) a reference.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 15 '13 at 15:38
  • 4
    ‘To put down references’ is quite an idiomatic expression that simply means ‘to list references’ on some kind of CV/application form/contract/what-have-you. In this case, the meaning is quite clear: instead of putting down a deposit or making a downpayment, you simply submit references from others in the community who have vouched for you. Jul 15 '13 at 19:22

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