[dohl-druhmz, dol-, dawl-]

noun (used with a plural verb)

a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art: August is a time of doldrums for many enterprises.
the doldrums,
  1. a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
  2. the weather prevailing in this area.
a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

Origin of doldrums

1795–1805; obsolete dold stupid (see dolt) + -rum(s) (plural) noun suffix (see tantrum)

Synonyms for doldrums Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for doldrums

Contemporary Examples of doldrums

Historical Examples of doldrums

  • For several months Crosson waited about, becalmed in the doldrums.

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes

  • And when you get in the doldrums, or becalmed, it stirs up your blood.

    A Little Girl in Old Salem

    Amanda Minnie Douglas

  • Well, we reached the tropics, and for three days the Doldrums held us.

  • After a year in the doldrums, Fleet was going to try to smash the Rebels again.

    A Question of Courage

    Jesse Franklin Bone

  • Larry,” said Muggins, “I think we have got into the doldrums.

    Sunk at Sea

    R.M. Ballantyne

British Dictionary definitions for doldrums


noun the doldrums

a depressed or bored state of mind
a state of inactivity or stagnation
  1. a belt of light winds or calms along the equator
  2. the weather conditions experienced in this belt, formerly a hazard to sailing vessels

Word Origin for doldrums

C19: probably from Old English dol dull, influenced by tantrum
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 doldrums

1811, from dulled, past participle of dullen, from Old English dol "foolish, dull," ending perhaps patterned on tantrum.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

doldrums in Science



A region of the globe found over the oceans near the equator in the intertropical convergence zone and having weather characterized variously by calm air, light winds, or squalls and thunderstorms. Hurricanes originate in this region.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with doldrums


see in the doldrums.

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