Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

downbeat

[doun-beet]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun Music.
  1. the downward stroke of a conductor's arm or baton indicating the first or accented beat of a measure.
  2. the first beat of a measure.
Show More
adjective
  1. gloomy or depressing; pessimistic: Hollywood movies seldom have downbeat endings.
Show More

Origin of downbeat

1875–80; down1 + beat (noun)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for downbeat

Contemporary Examples


British Dictionary definitions for downbeat

downbeat

noun
  1. music the first beat of a bar or the downward gesture of a conductor's baton indicating thisCompare upbeat
Show More
adjective
  1. informal depressed; gloomy
  2. informal relaxed; unemphatic
Show More
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 downbeat

1876 (n.), in reference to downward stroke of a conductor's baton; 1952 (adj.) in figurative sense of "pessimistic," but that is probably via associations of the word down (adv.), because the beat itself is no more pessimistic than the upbeat is optimistic.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper