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

  • n. Music The downward stroke made by a conductor to indicate the first beat of a measure.
  • n. Music The first beat of a measure.
  • n. Informal A period of stagnation or inactivity.
  • adj. Cheerless; pessimistic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The accented beat at the beginning of a bar (indicated by a conductor with a downward stroke)
  • adj. sad or pessimistic

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. the first beat of a musical measure (as the conductor's arm moves downward).

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

  • n. the first beat of a musical measure (as the conductor's arm moves downward)


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

down- +‎ beat


  • Atop lazy swirls of blues riffs, a voice croaks: "It's what you call a downbeat, it's what you call a downbeat."

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  • They are not "downbeat" -- perhaps even when they should be.


  • Economists were universally downbeat, which isn't totally surprising.

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  • Mr. SANDFORD: A lot of cops in fiction are very depressive and are kind of downbeat, and they've got all kinds of existential angst that they're dealing with.

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  • "Until last week it did seem that the market was ignoring the 'bad news' factors," such as downbeat economic data and oil-demand forecasts, said Mike Sander, an analyst at Sander Capital Advisors in Seattle.

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  • The fifteenth episode of season 3 kicked off the weirdest cycle of episodes in WKRP's run: almost every episode from this one through the end of the season was kind of downbeat and even depressing in spots.

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  • A recent report by legal consulting firm Hildebrandt International Inc. and Citi Private Bank, based in part on financial data furnished by nearly 250 law firms, predicted a slowdown in revenue and profit growth this year and was Hildebrandt's first "downbeat" client advisory since the late '90s.

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  • Reports on retail spending were "downbeat" and "pessimistic" about the holiday shopping season; news about the manufacturing sector was "mixed"; a "glut" of available homes continues, putting downward pressure on prices and construction activity, while the commercial real-estate sector shows signs of leveling off; and reports from the financial sector depict slight increases in delinquencies on commercial and industrial loans.

    When Bad News Happens

  • Q What do you see as the political impact of this kind of downbeat analysis as we approach the magical 100 days mark coming from within the administration itself as opposed to from outsiders who generally share this view?

    Press Briefing By George Stephanopoulos

  • I'm afraid that he is addressing, quite deliberately and in full consciousness of the film's high degree of vulnerability (great length and "downbeat" subject matter), the other 99.9 percent of the potential audience, in order to do his bit to discourage them from seeing it.

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