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[broun-out] /ˈbraʊnˌaʊt/
the elimination of some or reduction of all electric lights of a city, especially as a precaution against attack in time of war.
any curtailment of electric power, as by a severe storm.
Origin of brownout
1940-45; brown + out, on the model of blackout
Can be confused
blackout, brownout. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for brownout


noun (mainly US)
a dimming or reduction in the use of electric lights in a city, esp to conserve electric power or as a defensive precaution in wartime
a temporary reduction in electrical power Compare blackout (sense 3)
a temporary slowing down of the workings of the internet caused when too many users attempt to access it at the same time
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
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brownout in Culture

brownout definition

A situation in which the voltage in a power grid is reduced below its normal level but not entirely eliminated. (Compare blackout.)

Note: This reduced voltage can result in damage to many electronic devices.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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