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Origin of the idiom “go south”

My understanding is that "go south" means something fails. I would like to have a post with the title:

My job opportunities have gone south, again.

Is it correct? Is there a better way to put it?

  • well, that's not what I meant, but now I get it. I was asking if we could use "job gone south" like "girls gone wild". Now I see the difference.
    – Xi Zhang
    Jun 6, 2012 at 20:05

2 Answers 2


"go south" applies more towards a process than a discrete thing, so I might say, "My job search has gone south", implying a reduced rating of the ongoing search.

Job opportunities are static things. Their quality might degrade, but they, themselves, are not a process. "My job opportunities have gone to hell." describes a state change of the opportunities.



Phrases like this are quite particular to certain populations, so I would advise caution. This one, for instance, wouldn't be well understood in Britain where the phrase is rarely used.

Alternatives are listed here:


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