down·​beat | \ ˈdau̇n-ˌbēt How to pronounce downbeat (audio) \

Definition of downbeat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the downward stroke of a conductor indicating the principally accented note of a measure of music also : the first beat of a measure
2 : a decline in activity or prosperity



Definition of downbeat (Entry 2 of 2)

: pessimistic, gloomy a downbeat assessment

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Synonyms & Antonyms for downbeat

Synonyms: Adjective

bearish, defeatist, despairing, hopeless, pessimistic

Antonyms: Adjective

hopeful, optimistic, Panglossian, Pollyanna, Pollyannaish (also Pollyannish), rose-colored, rosy, upbeat

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Examples of downbeat in a Sentence


a downbeat prediction for the company's sales performance in the upcoming year

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Here Weiss’ florid pianism, drummer Fludas’ fat downbeats and bassist Vinsel’s sizable tone made for the most vivid statement of the show. Howard Reich,, "Pianist Michael Weiss evokes memories of Johnny Griffin," 22 June 2018 Three minutes before downbeat at Unitas’s final rehearsal at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts earlier this month, the conductor was informed that the entertainment license for the evening had been revoked. Zoë Madonna,, "Ensemble dedicated to Latin American composers builds musical bridges in Boston," 25 May 2018 Over a resonant downbeat, Abel Tesfaye makes good use of his signature falsetto. Raisa Bruner, Time, "5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week," 2 Feb. 2018 The drums take Bonham-doffing downbeats and turnarounds without remorse, across the huge six-and-a-half-minute song. Anna Tingley, Billboard, "Queens of the Stone Age Debut New 'Villains' Single 'The Evil Has Landed': Listen," 10 Aug. 2017 In a video posted by the Kensington Palace Twitter account, Princess Kate can be seen giving strong downbeats for the world-famous opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Yvonne Juris,, "Kate, the Conductor! Watch the Royal Lead the Hamburg Philharmonic as the European Tour Comes to a Close," 21 July 2017 Saturday mornings will feature No Soul Train—a dance show that highlights white people’s blatant disregard for downbeats. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Cops Release Bodycam Footage of White Privilege Gone Wild After Woman Claims Sexual Assault," 17 July 2017 From the concert’s opening downbeat, Sorrell was a very engaging conductor, gracefully offering clear direction yet eschewing a rigid allegiance to structure in favor of a free and passionate feel. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Classical-music review: Sorrell, SPCO have a baroque blast together," 7 Apr. 2017 Later, ethereal notes in the chorus are punctuated by firm string downbeats, like exhalations, that build to loud grandeur, then immediately recede, before a swirling, swinging climax driven on by an undercurrent of ba-bum heartbeat rhythm. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Review: Philharmonic Goes Dada With Esa-Pekka Salonen’s ‘Karawane’," 18 Mar. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But this particular desire sometimes gets in the way of telling a story that plays to their strengths, as the general tenor and message of the film are downbeat whereas Toledano and Nakache’s forte is light comedy more than social-issue drama. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Specials' ('Hors normes'): Film Review | Cannes 2019," 7 June 2019 Despite the latest downbeat confidence report, jobless claims, a leading indicator of the economy’s future trajectory, ticked down last week despite growing economic uncertainty. Sharon Nunn, WSJ, "U.S. Consumer Confidence Fades in December," 27 Dec. 2018 That followed downbeat readings on industrial output in China, as well as data showing inflation remained subdued across the eurozone. ... Akane Otani, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Finish the Week Strong," 15 Mar. 2019 Oil prices fell Friday after downbeat comments about U.S.-China trade and weak February U.S. hiring figures stoked fears of slowing economic growth and slumping commodity demand. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Fears of Softer Global Growth Hurt Oil," 8 Mar. 2019 Mostly the women looked like themselves, or an opulent downbeat version of themselves. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top Shows of Milan Fashion Week Fall 2019," 25 Feb. 2019 Bonds rallied Tuesday as worries about global growth and a downbeat outlook for U.S. corporate earnings dragged equities lower. Daniel Kruger, WSJ, "Foreign Buying of U.S. Treasurys Softens, Unsettling Financial Markets," 23 Oct. 2018 Its visual language, its byzantine plotting, its go-for-broke expansiveness are all irresistibly polyglot: Bollywood maximalism meets downbeat Euro noir meets Hollywood gangster epic. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Netflix’s Sacred Games Is Your Next Binge Watch," 20 July 2018 Slowing growth in Germany is a downbeat sign for the entire 19-country eurozone. David Mchugh, The Seattle Times, "Survey points to no rebound for slowing Germany economy," 19 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'downbeat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of downbeat


1766, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1950, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of downbeat was in 1766

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More Definitions for downbeat



English Language Learners Definition of downbeat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the downward movement that a conductor makes to show which note is played with the greatest stress or force
: the first beat of a measure of music



English Language Learners Definition of downbeat (Entry 2 of 2)

: sad or depressing : not happy or hopeful


down·​beat | \ ˈdau̇n-ˌbēt How to pronounce downbeat (audio) \

Kids Definition of downbeat

: the first beat of a measure of music

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having a desire to acquire more things

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