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countdown

[kount-doun] /ˈkaʊntˌdaʊn/
noun
1.
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.
2.
the final preparations made during this period.
3.
a period of increasing activity, tension, or anxiety, as before a deadline.
Origin of countdown
1950-1955
1950-55, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase count down
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for countdown

countdown

/ˈkaʊntˌdaʊn/
noun
1.
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)
2.
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
n.

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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