- The belt of water around the equator infamous for its calm waters and light winds.
Probably earlier than the 19th century. Possibly a slang word from the words dumps and tantrums.
The dreaded area of any sailor on a solely wind-powered vessel. To be becalmed and caught in the doldrums could spell doom for a vessel since there was no way to tell when the wind would pick up again.
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport.