Why is the idiom drop the other shoe negative as opposed to neutral or positive?

I was looking something up when I came across this:

to do the deed that completes something; to do the expected remaining part of something. OK, I get that. But then it was followed by these examples:

Franklin has left his wife. Soon he'll drop the other shoe and divorce her.
Tommy has just failed three classes in school. We expect him to drop the other shoe and quit altogether any day now.

I never associated the relief one feels when the other shoe drops to a necessarily negative connotation of the idiom.

Looking further, wait for the other shoe to drop:

to wait for something bad to happen. Once a company starts laying off employees, those who are still working feel they are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I understood it's origin, as I grew up in such an apartment: "A common experience of apartment living during the manufacturing boom of the late 19th and early 20th century. Apartments were built similar in design with one's bedroom under another's. Thus, it was normal to hear a neighbor removing shoes and hearing them hit the floor above. As one shoe made a sound hitting the floor, the expectation for the other shoe to make a similar sound was created."

I don't see this as bad, except perhaps for the minor inconveniece of anticipation between shoe-falls. But when it happens, there is relief. Any thoughts?

  • 2
    Shoes are (often) taken off at bedtime. I've always assumed that the origin was that you couldn't really go to sleep for the night until the second shoe had dropped, because it would wake you up if you did. Jan 19, 2014 at 13:20
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1 Answer 1


The alertness created by the first shoe combines with a sense of the inevitable (here comes the second...) to ramp up our anxiety; this is generally a negative experience.

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