Sailor Speak of the Week – Doldrums

Definition

Noun

  • The belt of water around the equator infamous for its calm waters and light winds.

Origin

Probably earlier than the 19th century. Possibly a slang word from the words dumps and tantrums.

Comments

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.

References

Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport.

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