Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun plural A period of stagnation or slump.
  • noun plural A period of depression or unhappy listlessness.
  • noun plural A region of the ocean near the equator, characterized by calms, light winds, or squalls.
  • noun plural The weather conditions characteristic of these regions of the ocean.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Low spirits; the dumps: as, he is in the doldrums.
  • Nautical, certain parts of the ocean near the equator that a bound in calms, squalls, and light baffling winds; also, the calms or variations of weather characteristic of those parts.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun plural A part of the ocean near the equator, abounding in calms, squalls, and light, baffling winds, which sometimes prevent all progress for weeks; -- so called by sailors.
  • noun plural to be in a state of listlessness ennui, or tedium.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A part of the ocean near the equator, abounding in calms, squalls, and light, baffling winds, which sometimes prevent all progress for weeks – so called by sailors
  • noun the state of boredom, malaise, apathy or lack of interest; a state of listlessness ennui, or tedium

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

  • noun a belt of calms and light winds between the northern and southern trade winds of the Atlantic and Pacific
  • noun a state of inactivity (in business or art etc)

Etymologies

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

[From obsolete doldrum, dullard, alteration (influenced by tantrum) of Middle English dold, past participle of dullen, to dull, from dul, dull; see dull.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Goidelic doltrum ("grief, vexation")

Examples

  • Conservatives have built up the myth of Reagan as being well-loved throughout his presidency, but he hit the same midterm doldrums Obama now finds himself in, and for almost exactly the same reason -- the economy was in the same doldrums, and it wasn't recovering fast enough to do the president any good politically.

    Chris Weigant: Obama Poll Watch -- September, 2010

  • They could have added that the Academy, in doldrums at the time, was ill-equipped for the sensitive task.

    The Nobel Prize in Literature

  • "We're looking for that magic they call the doldrums," she says.

    NPR Topics: News

  • "We're looking for that magic they call the doldrums," she says.

    NPR Topics: News

  • "We're looking for that magic they call the doldrums," she says.

    NPR Topics: News

  • "We're looking for that magic they call the doldrums," she says.

    NPR Topics: News

  •   Yet questions over Rove’s role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame have proven troublesome for a White House already struggling under the weight of second term doldrums and worries about the war in Iraq.

    The Riddle of Rove

  • Conservatives have built up the myth of Reagan as being well-loved throughout his presidency, but he hit the same midterm doldrums Obama now finds himself in, and for almost exactly the same reason -- the economy was in the same doldrums, and it wasn't recovering fast enough to do the president any good politically.

    Chris Weigant: Obama Poll Watch: September, 2010

  • Conservatives have built up the myth of Reagan as being well-loved throughout his presidency, but he hit the same midterm doldrums Obama now finds himself in, and for almost exactly the same reason -- the economy was in the same doldrums, and it wasn't recovering fast enough to do the president any good politically.

    Chris Weigant: Obama Poll Watch: September, 2010

  • Conservatives have built up the myth of Reagan as being well-loved throughout his presidency, but he hit the same midterm doldrums Obama now finds himself in, and for almost exactly the same reason -- the economy was in the same doldrums, and it wasn't recovering fast enough to do the president any good politically.

    Chris Weigant: Obama Poll Watch: September, 2010

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • If you're in the doldrums you're down in the dumps

    September 24, 2007

  • The region of calm winds, centered slightly north of the equator and between the two belts of trade winds, which meet there and neutralize each other. It is widely assumed that the phrase "in the doldrums" is derived from the name of this region. Actually, it's the other way about. In the 19th century, "doldrum" was a word meaning "dullard; a dull or sluggish fellow."

    The region now called the the Doldrums wasn't named until the mid-19th century, and the naming came about as the result of a misapprehension. When reports of ships that were becalmed in that region described them as being "in the doldrums," it was mistakenly thought that the reports were describing their location rather than their state. -- from The Phrase Finder

    February 20, 2008