Tuesday, 9 February 2010
ABC Wednesday Round 6 D
D is for the Doldrums, being in a state of Dejection, Depression, Despair, Despondency or simply Down in the Dumps.
In nautical terms the 'equatorial calms' refers to the areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans that lie within a low-pressure zone around the equator. In this intertropical convergence zone, winds are light and variable, unpredictable.
In the early part of the 19th century a 'doldrum' was a dullard or an indolent fellow. The word probably derived from 'dol' meaning dull and, as an antonym to 'tantrum', a fit of passion and temper, became known as a doldrum or state of listlessness and lethargy. 'In the doldrums' described a general condition of low spirits.
Byron used the phrase to describe a ship trapped by shifting winds and so unable to sail and thereafter 'in the doldrums' became an accepted term for ships unable to proceed though not becalmed in the usual sense of there being no wind.
The Doldrums were not known as such until the middle of the 19th century when ships that were becalmed in the low-pressure equatorial region were described as being 'in the doldrums'. There was a misapprehension that this phrase described the sea area. In 1855 Matthew Maury's book 'The physical geography of the sea' gave the name 'the equatorial doldrums' to this region and it has been called so ever since.
Thanks go to the ABC team for hosting this meme. To see more Delightful Ds please click here.