from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A reduction or cutback in electric power, especially as a result of a shortage, a mechanical failure, or overuse by consumers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A period of low alternating current line voltage
  • n. Temporary dimming of vision, usually with a brown hue and accompanied by loss of peripheral vision or tunnel vision.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. darkness resulting from the extinction of lights (as in a city invisible to enemy aircraft).
  • n. a partial reduction in the amount of electric power available to customers in a region, such as by reduction of voltage or selective cutoff of certain customers; -- it occurs for example in summer when the demand for electricity for air-conditioning exceeds the supply, or when power to certain customers is cut off by a severe storm. It is contrasted with blackout, which is the total loss of electrical power in a region.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. darkness resulting from the extinction of lights (as in a city invisible to enemy aircraft)


brown + (black)out.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
brown +‎ out (Wiktionary)


  • Earlier on the day of the crash, the Sikorsky attempted to land in another spot, but dust churned up by its rotors caused a "brownout" - a condition in which visibility is limited by dust or sand - and forced the helicopter to circle around before attempting another landing.


  • Both of those helicopters experiencing what are called brownout conditions, meaning the pilots couldn't see the ground because of all the dust flying in the air as they landed.

    CNN Transcript Mar 29, 2003

  • The helicopters landing in what are called brownout conditions, meaning the dust on the desert floor rises up and engulfs the helicopter.

    CNN Transcript Mar 29, 2003

  • A brownout is a small voltage reduction to conserve power, usually 2% to 8%.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • We are told by one official that perhaps it was an accident caused by a problem called brownout, when the helicopter rotor blades kick up dust and debris.

    CNN Transcript Oct 20, 2001

  • "A brownout is a service reduction, plain and simple," Bill Gault, president of Local 22, said Tuesday. Top EMS News

  • One of the most dangerous tasks a helicopter pilot faces is landing in what's known as brownout, in which blowing sand obliterates not only the horizon but the landing spot itself. - Latest News

  • During those last 29 months the Journal-American and Mirror imposed a press "brownout" on McCarthy, occasionally mentioning him in news stories but almost never in columns and editorials.

    Jim Tuck's homepage, biography and published works

  • For a City claiming to be so broke we have to "brownout" fire houses, lay off workers, and postpone police recruit classes, the City acts like it has a ton of money to throw away in one bad deal after another.

    One Day, Two (More) Bad Deals

  • When you can't control City spending, won't stop corporate tax giveaways, and refuse to close tax loopholes, instead opting to "brownout" fire houses, it is only a matter of time before somebody's home or businesss burns down or somebody gets killed.

    Brownouts Result In Fire Spread


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