Debbie Downer


What does Debbie Downer mean?

Debbie Downer is a slang phrase referring to someone who always sees the dark side of everything, depressing and lessens the enthusiasm of others.

The equivalent of the phrase “Negative Nancy”.


What's the origin of Debbie Downer?

The term derives from the pessimist character Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch) from Saturday Night Live, first aired on May 1, 2004.

Dratch’s character usually appears at social gatherings and inteinterruptsversations by adding negative opinions and bad news thus bringing down the mood of everyone.

The name itself comes from the noun “downer” used to refer to a ‘depressing person’ since the 1970s.

Spread & Usage

How did Debbie Downer spread?

Soon after the appearance of the character in 2004 in Saturday Night Live, the name “Debbie Downer” was turned into a noun.

It was American actress, and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow who identified herself with the character in The Oprah Winfrey Show on August 26, 2004 ,claiming “I’m Debbie Downer over here.”

In the January 1, 2005 issue of El Paso Times, Annamaria Longo wrote “I don’t mean to be a Debbie-the-Downer” in an article about Tsunami victims, creating the first written record of the popular noun.

The phrase skyrocketed in the year of its appearance, and despite the decline in popularity after 2004, it is still often used in spoken language and on social media platforms claiming “Hate to be a Debbie Downer, but” before sharing negative opinions or fears.

The South Shields pub, Sand Dancer posted a job advert on August 2, 2022 – which a lot of readers found offending –  looking for a new assistant manager who isn’t “Karen or Darren, a wet wipe, or a Debbie downer”.

The noun was first posted on Urban Dictionary on September 30, 2005, followed by a dozen others.

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