adverb or adjective
down·​stream | \ ˈdau̇n-ˈstrēm How to pronounce downstream (audio) \

Definition of downstream

1 : in the direction of or nearer to the mouth of a stream floating downstream located two miles downstream
2 : in or toward the latter stages of a usually industrial process or the stages (such as marketing) after manufacture improving profits downstream downstream products
3 biochemistry : toward the end of a series of cellular processes : following a linked molecular event occurring in a sequence But by looking downstream of the tumor suppressors [genes] at the proteins they influence, drug developers hope to find good targets.— Marcia Barinaga

Examples of downstream in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

An adult woman who was hanging on to a tree branch downstream was rescued by using a throwbag, according to TSCFD, while the two children were found further downstream. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Authorities search for man who went missing after attempting to cross flooded bridge," 17 June 2019 Damage extends downstream into Arkansas following heavy spring rains. Washington Post, "Mike Pence pledges to rebuild after Oklahoma flood damage," 5 June 2019 Hernandez went to help Santay but was also pulled into the powerful river and traveled downstream. Robin Goist,, "Search continues for missing swimmer in Cuyahoga River in Akron," 3 June 2019 Mississippi River cities rushed to sandbag and evacuate downtown homes and businesses as floodwaters that overwhelmed defenses in Davenport, Iowa, earlier in the week headed downstream toward St. Louis. Erin Ailworth, WSJ, "Mississippi River Cities Brace for More Damage as Floodwaters Move Toward St. Louis," 3 May 2019 The Maryland Department of the Environment announced Friday that Exelon, the energy company that runs the Conowingo Dam, needs to reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients that flow downstream, among other requirements. Washington Post, "Maryland dam needs to reduce environmental impact," 27 Apr. 2018 In late April, Judge William Orrick, siding with Indian tribes and commercial fishermen, ruled that a significant share of water that farmers needed for their spring planting is going downstream to aid troubled fish populations. Ryan Sabalow And Dale Kasler, sacbee, "Can an uneasy truce hold off another water rebellion on California's northern border? | The Sacramento Bee," 11 May 2018 Heavy rains forced the state authorities to release excess water from dozens of reservoirs, causing floods downstream. Fox News, "Heavy monsoon rains kill 44 in southern India, close airport," 15 Aug. 2018 If the canal can’t do its job, farmers downstream likely will pump more groundwater during dry years. Dale Kasler And Phillip Reese, sacbee, "The Valley floor is sinking, and it’s crippling California’s ability to deliver water," 13 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of downstream

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about downstream

Statistics for downstream

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for downstream

The first known use of downstream was in 1591

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for downstream


adverb or adjective

Financial Definition of downstream

What It Is

Downstream refers to the benefits (or costs) that will ultimately result from decisions made today.

How It Works

In finance, a series of investments might be made with the anticipation that at a point in time in the future these efforts will yield a series of returns.  These returns occur after the initial investments.  As a result, they are referred to as downstream benefits.  Similarly, investments can have downstream "costs" as well.   The expectation is that the downstream benefits will outweigh the downstream costs.

At the same time, because the future is hard to predict, downstream effects are often unanticipated, setting off unintended costs and consequences.

Why It Matters

It is important to consider the "downstream" effects of an investment decision since it will impact ones future economic performance.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of downstream

: in the direction in which a stream, river, etc., flows


down·​stream | \ ˈdau̇n-ˈstrēm How to pronounce downstream (audio) \

Kids Definition of downstream

: in the direction a stream is flowing paddling downstream

Keep scrolling for more


adverb or adjective
down·​stream | \ ˌdau̇n-ˈstrēm How to pronounce downstream (audio) \

Medical Definition of downstream

1 : in the same direction along a molecule of DNA or RNA as that in which transcription and translation take place and toward the end having a hydroxyl group attached to the position labeled 3′ in the terminal nucleotide a nucleotide sequence located downstream from the regulatory gene effects on the expression of downstream genes — compare upstream sense 1
2 : toward the end of a series of cellular processes : following a linked molecular event occurring in a sequence But by looking downstream of the tumor suppressors [genes] at the proteins they influence, drug developers hope to find good targets.— Marcia Barinaga, Science, 7 Nov. 1997 The tyrosine kinase activity of phosphorylated EGFR [epidermal growth factor receptor] in cancer cells results in the phosphorylation of downstream proteins that incite cell proliferation, invasion, metastasis, and inhibition of apoptosis.— Jonathan E. Dowell and John D. Minna, The New England Journal of Medicine, 24 Feb. 2005

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on downstream

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with downstream

Spanish Central: Translation of downstream

Nglish: Translation of downstream for Spanish Speakers

Comments on downstream

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


showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!