1. a depressant or sedative drug, especially a barbiturate.
  2. a depressing experience, person, or situation.
Animal Husbandry. an old or diseased animal, especially one that cannot stand up.

Origin of downer

1910–15, Americanism, for an earlier sense; 1965–70, for def 1; down1 + -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for downer

misfortune, drag, bummer

Examples from the Web for downer

Contemporary Examples of downer

Historical Examples of downer

British Dictionary definitions for downer


noun slang

Also called: down a barbiturate, tranquillizer, or narcoticCompare upper
a depressing experience
a state of depressionhe's on a downer today
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 downer

1966 in sense of "barbiturate;" 1970 in sense of "depressing person;" agent noun from down (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

downer in Medicine




A depressant or sedative drug, such as a barbiturate or tranquilizer.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.