I understand that phrasal verbs are extremely idiosyncratic.

If I have to replace -Sober up or calm down, would sober down be an appropriate choice, and a formal alternative.

Edit: Or can i conclude that the underlying logic only involves metaphorical meanings of the adverbial particle (i.e., up/down etc.) and therefore, phrasal verbs referring to increment tend to use 'up' (fire someone up, be hyped up, rev up, etc), while 'decrease' is one of the meanings of phrasal verbs with 'down' (calm down, settle down, die down, etc).

  • No it is either 'sober-up' or 'calm-down'.
    – WS2
    Sep 25 '14 at 15:40
  • 2
    There's an UP/DOWN metaphor working here. Sober people are erect, while calm people are seated. So the completive sense of up works with sober, and the down to the ground sense of down works with calm, but not the other way round. Sep 25 '14 at 15:48

The best answers are given by dictionaries. The two expression don't mean the same. Longman's Dictionary of Contemporary English says:

to sober down - meaning to become more serious in behaviour or attitude.

to sober up - meaning gradually to become less drunk.


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