I thought that the idiom, "bring someone back/down to earth", meant taking someone off a pedestal, and seeing them for who they really are. For example:

She needs to bring him down to earth and see that he's an asshole.

But when I look it up in a dictionary, I don't get this definition. Instead, I find this.

Fig. to help someone face reality; to help someone who is euphoric become more realistic. (source)

Is my understanding also correct? Is there another way of saying what I want to say?

  • Nope, the dictionary is correct. It has nothing to do with your perception and everything to do with the other's perception. What you seem to be wanting is something along the lines of "take off those rose-colored glasses".
    – Phil Sweet
    May 28, 2016 at 3:42
  • 2
    Perhaps the phrase you're looking for is "to take someone down a peg".
    – deadrat
    May 28, 2016 at 10:18

2 Answers 2


Nope, you're wrong on this one. The person with the unrealistic view is the one that needs to become grounded. Thus, "She needs to be brought down to earth and realize that jerk didn't hang the moon." would fit; the subject of her affections might well be aware of his limitations.

If he is also blithely unaware of his limits, that phrase would apply, but not quite in that way. It would be illuminating him to drag him back down to earth. Note that dragging someone "into the dirt/muck" has very different meaning than "to the earth".

You already included one example that means what you want: "Take him off his pedestal." Other phrases to consider include:

"Remove the blindfold/scales/rose-colored glasses."

"Show/reveal him for what he is."

"Talk/knock/shake some sense into her."

"Wake her up."

There are many phrases that apply to such a case.


I have never heard or read it used as in your first example, but it holds the same meaning either way. There is a person with an inflated perception of someone and there is a want, a need, or an inevitability that it will be corrected. So yes, I would say the first example is correct. And for me a new way to think about the expression.

  • 1
    The first example is not correct. See PS's comment to the question. The person who needs to be "brought down to earth" has an unrealistic perception of something, but not necessarily of someone.
    – deadrat
    May 28, 2016 at 10:17

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