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

1910–15, Americanism, for an earlier sense; 1965–70, for def 1; down1 + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for downer


noun slang
  1. Also called: down a barbiturate, tranquillizer, or narcoticCompare upper
  2. a depressing experience
  3. a state of depressionhe's on a downer today
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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.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

downer in Medicine


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