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[kount-doun] /ˈkaʊntˌdaʊn/
the backward counting in fixed time units from the initiation of a project, as a rocket launching, with the moment of firing designated as zero.
the final preparations made during this period.
a period of increasing activity, tension, or anxiety, as before a deadline.
Origin of countdown
1950-55, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase count down Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for countdown
  • Cleared with only seconds left before possibly requiring a scrub, the signal was finally given to continue the countdown.
  • Features an easel display, backlight, and countdown timer.
  • Preferably it should have a large red countdown timer.
  • Game in progress: seven turns left on the countdown clock.
  • It was the physical removal of the tube that led to the perceived inexorability of the countdown.
  • With local elections less than a year away, the countdown has begun.
  • Looking for clarification on new countdown signal requirement.
British Dictionary definitions for countdown


the act of counting backwards to time a critical operation exactly, such as the launching of a rocket or the detonation of explosives
verb (intransitive, adverb)
to count numbers backwards towards zero, esp in timing such a critical operation
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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Word Origin and History for countdown

1953, American English, in early use especially of launches of rockets or missiles, from count (v.) + down.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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