countdown

[ kount-doun ]
/ ˈkaʊntˌdaʊn /

noun

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.

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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. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for countdown

countdown
/ (ˈkaʊntˌdaʊn) /

noun

the act of counting backwards to time a critical operation exactly, such as the launching of a rocket or the detonation of explosives

verb count down (intr, adverb)

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

Idioms and Phrases with countdown

count down

1

Count backward from any number to zero to indicate time, as in The final seconds before take off were counted down: 10, 9, 8, etc. The down in this term refers to the decreasing size of the numbers. This usage originated in connection with the firing of missiles and spacecraft and has since been broadened to such events as the roll call of states at a political convention. [c. 1950]

2

Make final preparations for an event, as in Hong Kong was counting down to the day when it became part of mainland China. This usage is derived from def. 1. [Late 1950s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.