In one of a series of letters widely believed to be written by the serial killer Jack the Ripper (commonly referred to as the "Dear Boss" letter) the author makes use of the following phrase:

... I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled...

Clearly the overarching meaning of this statement is that the killer has no intent to stop committing their crimes.

My question pertains specifically to the author's use of the word "down" in this context. After consulting the relevant Wikitionary entry for the word, I'm at a loss as to what exactly the phrase "I'm down on whores" means here?

  • 3
    The phrase to have a down on someone (bear a grudge against them) is still current in British English (it's under 'noun' in Wiktionary). Possibly to be down on is related? Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 9:52
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    "look down on" - have contempt, disdain for. The murderous person feels superior to the victim of his self-righteous convictions. Self-hatred projected outward.
    – tblue
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 10:02
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    Does this answer your question? Meaning of "down on me" in the Janis Joplin song Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 11:48
  • There is also a slang use of the term in the US -- "I'm down on that new singer" or whatever -- that means you have an appreciation of the person/thing.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 13:05
  • @HotLicks Despite me being a subject of the Commonwealth, this was one of the interpretations that seemed natural to me as well! E.g., "I'm down with [insert thing here]" -- indicating support for the thing. I'd note two things in the JtR case: firstly, Jack's likely not supportive of whores; secondly, the phrase in question is "down on", not "down with". The latter I'm unfamiliar with, hence the question.
    – jmcph4
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 22:46

1 Answer 1


The expression is still in British English use.

Cambridge Dictionary gives this definition of the transitive multi-word expression:

[be{ing}] down on [someone or something]

feeling angry or disappointed with someone or something:

  • Dad’s down on me since I scraped the car backing out of the garage.

so the meaning here is that Jack has an angry attitude towards whores.

  • It's also commonplace in AmE usage.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 14:01

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