Definition of downbeat in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdaʊnbiːt/


1Pessimistic or gloomy: the assessment of the UK’s economic prospects is downbeat
More example sentences
  • Barely a negative vibe will be emitted from any of the bidding nations, nor a single quote uttered which might seem remotely downbeat or pessimistic.
  • For this reason, people often view him as pessimistic and downbeat.
  • This survey of the EU's institutions, like the new institutionalist literature itself, might seem to paint a generally sombre, downbeat, pessimistic picture of modern political life.
pessimistic, gloomy, negative, defeatist, gloom-ridden, cynical, bleak, fatalistic, dark, black, despairing, despondent, depressed, dejected, demoralized, hopeless, melancholy, glum, lugubrious, suspicious, distrustful, doubting, alarmist
informal given to looking on the black side
2Relaxed and understated: he responds to her enthusiasm with downbeat bemusement
More example sentences
  • This song set the tone for the downbeat understatement that the event traditionally displays.
  • Here was a manager who understood the anguish of a support which, in turn, recognised the limitations of a squad but could not understand the downbeat nature of performances.
  • The president, C Parker, set a downbeat tone in his speech.
relaxed, easy-going, equable, free and easy, easy, at ease, casual, informal, nonchalant, insouciant, understated, inconspicuous, low-key, subdued, discreet, muted, subtle, played down, toned down, unostentatious, blasé, cool
informal laid-back, unflappable, together


An accented beat, usually the first of the bar.
Example sentences
  • The song has three stanzas of six lines, carrying four stresses downbeats separated by upbeats.
  • For this pianist rushing and slowing down in the cantabile sections while drawing attention to the downbeats over the barlines is a measure of profound expression.
  • Stopping before a bar line inhibits the central nervous system of the student who could otherwise tend to take over and encourage rushing over bar lines into downbeats.

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Line breaks: down|beat

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