be in the doldrums
- be inactive
- very quiet or dull
- in a low or lethargic state
- sluggish, in low spirits
- A cut in interest rates on housing loans can lift the property market out of the doldrums.
- When the financial system of the country is in the doldrums, my business feels the effects.
- My dog has been in the doldrums these past couple of days and nothing I do seems to cheer him up.
- My horse is in the doldrums, I cannot take part in horse racing this week.
- Don’t be in the doldrums, get up and let’s find some way to get out of here.
This expression alludes to the maritime doldrums, a belt of calms and light winds north of the equator in which sailing ships were often becalmed. This idiom possibly first used to mean ‘a general state of low spirits’ in the early 19th century; for example, this piece from The Morning Herald, April 1811:
I am now in the doldrums; but when I get better, I will send [for] you.