Note: Tracking the origins for the majority of popular sayings isn't easy, in fact, it's often impossible. Usually what you will find are plausible theories that try to explain a phrase's origin, but remember, they are just theories.
The quotes on this website come from older books, poems, newspapers, etc. They can be used as an indicator to determine how old some of these sayings are. Keep in mind, however, that if a saying is being used in an old newspaper, it's probably already well-known, so it's likely older than that.
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knowyourphrase.com - Meanings and Origins of Phrases
Practical or humble; unpretentious; reasonable.
The origin of this idiom is unclear. The earliest I could find this idiom with its
figurative meaning of "something that's reasonable" is during the 20th century.
For example, in the Newark Advocate newspaper from 1922, there is a section
in the paper about women's clothing and the idiom is used to describe their
so-called practical prices:
"Here are four groups of worth-while garments at 'down to earth' prices."
This saying is used in a similar way in the Sandusky Star Journal newspaper, 1935:
"And, while our fashions are as new as tomorrow, our prices are the good down-to-earth prices that
save you money."
Thus, one of the ways this idiom was used during the 20th century was to describe how the costs of things were both reasonable and affordable for the average consumer.
Reference: Newspaperarchive had digital copies of the newspapers with the phrases in the quote above.
* My car broken down and I had to take it in to the repair shop. I thought it would cost me an exorbant amount of money, but their prices were down to earth and very reasonable.