See also: shutdown and shut-down

English

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Pronunciation

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  • Audio (US):(file)

Verb

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shut down (third-person singular simple present shuts down, present participle shutting down, simple past and past participle shut down)

  1. (transitive) To close, terminate, or end.
    They are planning to shut down the entire building at the end of the month.
    • 2001 November 2, Justin Hill, Carolyn See, “The Once and Future China / The Drink and Dream Teahouse”, in The Washington Post[1], →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 19 January 2024[2]:
      The time is now, the place the grim industrial city of Shaoyang, China, which has just been informed that its No. 2 Space Rocket Factory is going to shut down.
    • 2010, Jonathan Ashcroft, Scavengers, page 41:
      Alex quickly shut down her argument. 'But I'm the male. They lead in dancing, why shouldn't I be the lead here too? And besides, I was picked, you applied, which basically means I'm the lead anyway. []
    • 2020 July 1, Daniel Puddicombe, “How can heritage lines recover from enforced closures?”, in Rail, page 30:
      The typical business model relies on a line operating intensively from March or April through to September or October, before shutting down during the winter months - at which point essential repairs and maintenance can take place using income accrued during the busy summer months, ahead of the cycle starting over again.
  2. (ergative) To turn off or stop.
    It's a good idea to shut down the machine before you leave.
    My computer is shutting down as we speak.
    • 1961 January, “Talking of Trains: Flooding at Lewes”, in Trains Illustrated, page 5:
      On the morning of Thursday, November 3, flood water rose over the conductor rails in platforms 1 to 3 of Lewes station and the electric service to London had to be shut down.
  3. (figuratively, intransitive) To emotionally withdraw into oneself as a defense mechanism; to block out external stressors.
    I can't talk to him about the accident; he just shuts down anytime I try.
  4. (figurative, transitive) To suppress, block out, or reject (an idea or an aspect of one's personality or identity).
    She made a proposal to reorganize the department, but management shut her down.
    • 2024 March 1, F1NN5TER, 1:12 from the start, in Coming Out[3], archived from the original on 14 May 2024:
      And I learned a lot, and, um, some of it seemed a little bit too interesting? It felt a bit like I uncovered a part of myself that I've been purposefully just shutting down for as long as I can remember and never questioned why.
  5. (slang, auto racing, car culture) To pass (another vehicle), especially quickly.
    I opened that throttle and shut him down.

Usage notes

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Phrasal verbs with the particles down and up tend to connote a process that takes a span of time and contains multiple steps, whereas those with the particles off and on tend to connote an event that happens instantly, in a point of time. This nuance of cognitive schema is merely connotative, not denotative or rigorous, and therefore the phrasal verbs shut down and power down are broadly synonymous with shut off, power off, and turn off, as well as stop and kill. However, the fact that turning a computer on or off requires booting and unwinding, which are multistep processes (albeit black boxes to the user in modern operating systems), influenced the origins of power management commands such as shut down rather than turn off or switch off. Similarly, power plants and ship engines are fired up and shut down, and not so much turned on and switched off, in idiomatic usage. Nonetheless, any process (no matter how complex) can be triggered with a single command, which is why an executive officer or legislature can simply kill a multi-billion-dollar government program, or a laptop user can simply switch off their computer, even if the program takes a while to wind down.

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