- the backward counting in fixed time units from the initiation of a project, as a rocket launching, with the moment of firing designated as zero.
- the final preparations made during this period.
- a period of increasing activity, tension, or anxiety, as before a deadline.
Origin of countdown
1950–55, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase count down
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for countdown
Dickens greeted the crowd, gave a few tips and instructions, then led us in a countdown from ten to one.Chicago’s Running of the Bulls
July 26, 2014
From Will Ferrell crashing a World Cup rally to a cliff dive Slip ‘n Slide, WATCH our countdown of this week’s buzziest videos.Will Ferrell Soccer Speech, Cliff Dive Slip ‘N Slides, and More Viral Videos
June 29, 2014
From Kimmel and Kanye burying the hatchet to a telekinetic coffee shop surprise, WATCH our countdown.‘We Can’t Stop’ a Cappella, Coffee Shop Telekinesis & More Viral Videos
October 13, 2013
The Countdown is on, but, as Kate knows, babies come when they are ready...Kate's Last Day of Work Tomorrow Suggests Early July Due Date
June 12, 2013
Or did I remember them creating a countdown calendar to the release date?‘Great Gatsby’ Reviewers Divided: Is Baz Luhrmann a Good Director?
May 9, 2013
Although attentive, he was not tense, even during the countdown.Subspace Survivors
E. E. Smith
It was like the countdown for a rocket firing, Rick thought.
The next night, the big news was the countdown in process at Canaveral to put a functioning "dome" on the moon.Prologue to an Analogue
He hoped the launching crew had gotten their fingers frozen off while they were going through the countdown.Pushbutton War
Joseph P. Martino
By agreement, the countdown was to be broadcast to all aircraft over one of the airport frequencies.
- the act of counting backwards to time a critical operation exactly, such as the launching of a rocket or the detonation of explosives
- to count numbers backwards towards zero, esp in timing such a critical operation
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for countdown
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper