noun Music.
the downward stroke of a conductor's arm or baton indicating the first or accented beat of a measure.
the first beat of a measure.
gloomy or depressing; pessimistic: Hollywood movies seldom have downbeat endings.

1875–80; down1 + beat (noun) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
downbeat (ˈdaʊnˌbiːt)
1.  music Compare upbeat the first beat of a bar or the downward gesture of a conductor's baton indicating this
2.  informal depressed; gloomy
3.  informal relaxed; unemphatic

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1876, in ref. to downward stroke of a conductor's baton; 1952 in fig. sense of "pessimistic," but probably just from the association of the word down, since the beat itself is no more pessimistic than the upbeat (q.v.) is optimistic.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The proceedings are all off the record, but the mood is downbeat.
Suddenly the headlines were downbeat, and pundits were pontificating about the political implications of a stalled labor market.
But this downbeat aftermath is underplayed to prolong the misty-eyed sentimentality.
Critics may sneer, but it's impossible to do this sort of thing unless you have an almost perfect downbeat in your head.
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