2

Context (New York Times),

The episode has been a sobering lesson in how even an agency that carries some 350,000 passengers over 104 miles of track every workday can be brought low by a seemingly ragtag group of activists who identify themselves by pseudonyms like Lamaline_5mg.

In Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, I found this entry,

be brought low (old-fashioned) to lose your wealth or your high position in society

But I'm wondering if we can just simply interpret this idiom literally? Please see these two entries in Merriam-Webster,

bring: (4) : to cause to come into a particular state or condition.

low: 11: unfavorable, disparaging

3 Answers 3

2

Brought low indicates that once it was high up, and something caused it to lose its high position. In this case, the power of a prestigious cell phone communications provider was compromised by a "seemingly ragtag group of activists", which is a "sobering lesson".

So X was brought low by Y means though X previously had much power/ability, Y compromised/destroyed it to the point that X has very little ability.

1
1

It comes from bring down, as you might "bring down" a government - so somebody who has lost power or authority has been "brought down" (in BE) or "brought-low" (AE)

-1

I've read it (in fiction, mostly) to mean that an individual has been embarrassed or shamed, or that something has happened to bring about a low mood. I can easily see how this would be an extension of the above provided definition.

1
  • Welcome, @Kettle! We usually look for answers that have supporting material. Do you have a reference for that meaning that you can edit into your answer? Aug 8, 2014 at 16:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.