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The noun is possibly derived from dull or Middle English dold (past participle of dullen, dollen (to make or become blunt or dull; to make or become dull-witted or stupid; to make or become inactive),[1] from dul, dol, dolle (not sharp, blunt, dull; not quick-witted, stupid; lethargic, sluggish);[2] see further at dull), modelled after tantrum.[3]

The adjective is probably derived from the noun.



doldrum (plural doldrums)

  1. (slang, obsolete) A slothful or stupid person.
    Synonyms: dullard; see also Thesaurus:idiot
    • 1817 April 30, William Hone, “Political Priestcraft, Continued, in another Epistle to the Rev. Dan[iel] Wilson, []”, in Hone’s Reformists’ Register, and Weekly Commentary, volume I, number 15, London: Printed by J. D. Dewick, []; published by William Hone, [], published 3 May 1817, OCLC 54363424, columns 476–477:
      Were there no "tears and miseries," when the half-witted doldrums, thinking they were not big enough to be seen, put themselves on horseback, to bask and frolic in a procession, and meet their man-midwife, or surgeon, or whatever he is, who had left his business at Norwich, to go to London, for the purpose of administering their little nostrum to the Prince Regent?

Derived terms[edit]


doldrum (comparative more doldrum, superlative most doldrum)

  1. Boring, uninteresting.
    Synonym: humdrum
    She quit her doldrum job and left to seek a life of adventure.



  1. ^ dullen, v.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 18 May 2019.
  2. ^ dul, adj.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  3. ^ doldrum”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1897.