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- 1 [treated as singular] (or plural often the blues) melancholic music of black American folk origin, typically in a twelve-bar sequence. It developed in the rural southern US toward the end of the 19th century, finding a wider audience in the 1940s as blacks migrated to the cities. This urban blues gave rise to rhythm and blues and rock and roll.
mid 18th century (in sense 2): elliptically from blue devils 'depression or delirium tremens'