Definition of doldrums in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdōldrəmz/
Pronunciation: /ˈdäldrəmz/

plural noun

(the doldrums)
1A state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression: the mortgage market has been in the doldrums for three years
More example sentences
  • Mainstream rock is growing back into favour following a period in the doldrums during which the public was wooed by the less genuine sounds of pop.
  • After a long period in the doldrums, the company's share price has begun to respond to the company's strong earnings performance over the past five years.
  • There is no doubt about the fact that motor sport is picking up again in Thailand, after a period in the doldrums following the economic crash.
1.1An equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds.
Example sentences
  • With conditions ranging from the unpredictable calms of the doldrums to the gale force winds and icebergs of the southern oceans, the Global Challenge is certainly not one for the faint-hearted.
  • On the equator there is little wind, mariners called this region the doldrums (after an old English word meaning dull) because they feared being stranded there.
  • The trade winds from both hemispheres converge towards the doldrums and a zone of low pressure, the equatorial trough, that girdles the earth.


Late 18th century (as doldrum 'dull, sluggish person'): perhaps from dull, on the pattern of tantrums.

  • To most people the doldrums refers to a state or period of stagnation or depression, but to sailors it is an equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds. For sailing ships, being becalmed in the doldrums was a serious occupational hazard. The earliest form of the word, in the late 18th century, was singular doldrum, and it meant ‘a dull, sluggish, or stupid person’. It may come from dull, which originally meant ‘stupid’ (Old English).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: dol·drums

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