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[dou-ner] /ˈdaʊ nər/
  1. a depressant or sedative drug, especially a barbiturate.
  2. a depressing experience, person, or situation.
Animal Husbandry. an old or diseased animal, especially one that cannot stand up.
Origin of downer
1910-15, Americanism, for an earlier sense; 1965-70, for def 1; down1 + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for downer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Make him lively, cook him; tell him who taught you; a downer to him, and I'll marry you to-morrow!'

  • Last fall I potted some of the downer, and in the winter grew them in the house.

    Locusts and Wild Honey John Burroughs
  • There was downer, a little Freshman, white with the excitement of his first public performance.

    At Start and Finish William Lindsey
  • Some berries shine, the downer glows as if there were a red bloom upon it.

    Locusts and Wild Honey John Burroughs
  • Here was a great mortgage on the downer farm, that the Eastmans had partly cut into city lots.

    Hope Mills Amanda M. Douglas
British Dictionary definitions for downer


noun (slang)
Also called down. a barbiturate, tranquillizer, or narcotic Compare upper
a depressing experience
a state of depression: he's on a downer today
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 downer

1966 in sense of "barbiturate;" 1970 in sense of "depressing person;" agent noun from down (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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downer in Medicine

downer down·er (dou'nər)
A depressant or sedative drug, such as a barbiturate or tranquilizer.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for downer



  1. A depressant drug, esp a barbiturate; sedative; down (1950s+ Narcotics)
  2. A depressing experience; bad trip, bummer, drag: The opening scene's a downer (1960s+ Narcotics)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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