plural noun dol·drums \ˈdōl-drəmz, ˈdäl-, ˈdȯl-\

Definition of doldrums

  1. 1 :  a spell of listlessness or despondency fighting off the winter doldrums

  2. 2 often capitalized, oceanography :  a part of the ocean near the equator abounding in calms (see 1calm 1b), squalls, and light shifting winds

  3. 3 :  a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump out of the economic doldrums

doldrums was our Word of the Day on 01/14/2010. Hear the podcast!

Examples of doldrums in a sentence

  1. the theater scene is usually in the doldrums during the summer

  2. the team had been in the doldrums ever since losing the championship

Did You Know?

Everyone gets the doldrums - a feeling of low spirits and lack of energy - every once in a while. The doldrums experienced by sailors, however, are usually of a different variety. In the mid-19th century, the word once reserved for a feeling of despondency came to be applied to certain tropical regions of the ocean marked by the absence of strong winds. Sailing vessels, reliant on wind propulsion, struggled to make headway in these regions, leading to long, arduous journeys. The exact etymology of doldrums is not certain, though it is believed to be related to the Old English dol, meaning "foolish" - a history it shares with our adjective "dull."

Origin and Etymology of doldrums

probably akin to Old English dol foolish

First Known Use: 1765

DOLDRUMS Defined for English Language Learners


plural noun dol·drums \ˈdōl-drəmz, ˈdäl-, ˈdȯl-\

Definition of doldrums for English Language Learners

  • : a state or period of sadness or depression

  • : a state or period in which there is no activity or improvement

DOLDRUMS Defined for Kids


noun plural dol·drums \ˈdōl-drəmz, ˈdäl-, ˈdȯl-\

Definition of doldrums for Students

  1. 1 :  a spell of sadness I tried to cheer her of her doldrums.

  2. 2 :  a period of no activity or improvement Her business was in the doldrums.

  3. 3 :  a part of the ocean near the equator known for its calms

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up doldrums? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a rounded knoll or a ridge of ice

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