doldrums

plural noun

dol·​drums ˈdōl-drəmz How to pronounce doldrums (audio) ˈdäl- How to pronounce doldrums (audio)
ˈdȯl-
1
: a spell of listlessness or despondency
fighting off the winter doldrums
2
often capitalized oceanography : a part of the ocean near the equator abounding in calms (see calm entry 1 sense 1b), squalls, and light shifting winds
3
: a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump
out of the economic doldrums

Did you know?

Almost 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 early-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.

Examples of doldrums in a Sentence

the theater scene is usually in the doldrums during the summer the team had been in the doldrums ever since losing the championship we were in the doldrums while we waited for something to happen
Recent Examples on the Web All signs indicate that violence will persist and the economy will remain in the doldrums. Seth G. Jones, Foreign Affairs, 3 Dec. 2012 The Young Adult Emergency Relief Fund was launched about a month ago in response to the industry’s post-strike doldrums, said Richie Siegel, cofounder of Inevitable Foundation. Jon Healey, Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2024 Red Lobster promised customers an endless supply of shrimp for $20 — a gamble the struggling restaurant chain hoped would help pull it out of its pandemic doldrums. Marisa Gerber, Los Angeles Times, 14 May 2024 And consumer sentiment is at last showing signs of rebounding after years in the doldrums. Ben Casselman, New York Times, 25 Jan. 2024 See all Example Sentences for doldrums 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'doldrums.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

probably akin to Old English dol foolish

First Known Use

1765, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of doldrums was in 1765

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Cite this Entry

“Doldrums.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/doldrums. Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

doldrums

plural noun
dol·​drums ˈdōl-drəmz How to pronounce doldrums (audio) ˈdäl- How to pronounce doldrums (audio)
ˈdȯl-
1
: a spell of low spirits
2
: a part of the ocean near the equator known for its calms
3
: a state in which nothing seems to be going on
business is in the doldrums

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