Definition of blues in English:


plural noun

  • 1or plural often the bluestreated as singular or plural Melancholic music of black American folk origin, typically in a twelve-bar sequence. It developed in the rural southern US toward the end of the 19th century, finding a wider audience in the 1940s as blacks migrated to the cities. This urban blues gave rise to rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

    • ‘For years, pedantic scholars have crowed about the debt rock owes the blues.’
    • ‘Some people like jazz, or rock and roll or the blues.’
    • ‘That progressed from the blues into folk and gospel music and things like that.’
    • ‘She plays the blues as filtered through the best punk rock.’
    • ‘People never know if my music is jazz or blues or folk or pop, but I don't know how to put myself into a category.’
    • ‘This gradual migration of the blues from a rural to an urban setting had an unexpected effect on the music.’
    • ‘What emerges from this mixture is a very American sound that mixes jazz, country and western, rock, popular song, folk, and the blues.’
    • ‘Although the origins of the blues may never be known, the Mississippi Delta has been called the ‘home of the blues.’’
    • ‘It has further enhanced by love for rock and the blues for its simplicity of groove and expression.’
    • ‘Rather my objectives flow from a desire to revitalize our assumptions about the concepts of empowerment and agency in relation to black women and the blues.’
    • ‘It was the blues with energy, music from the heart, played on whatever was around.’
    • ‘Susan adds her dazzling jazz sound of silky vocals and sultry twists to eleven recordings ranging from traditional and folk to the blues.’
    • ‘Now, just like with rock music philosophy, blues rests on the notion of the mythological, endless Saturday night.’
    • ‘Here she is not only a blues poet, but also a part of a blues people grounded in a specific set of conditions that give birth to the blues as music and as world view.’
    • ‘Just don't get him started on jazz or, worse, the blues.’
    • ‘Yet all this activity detailing the history of the blues during the twentieth century obscures a few thorny questions.’
    • ‘The great African-American exodus from the south during the first half of the twentieth century spawned a new form of urban electric-based blues.’
    • ‘At the same time, the rise of blues festivals across the country has further commodified the blues as a feel-good music geared largely to whites.’
    • ‘By the mid-'60s, younger British musicians were adapting the urban blues as well.’
    • ‘And this is before the great twentieth-century migrations of blacks and the blues.’
    1. 1.1treated as singular A piece of blues music.
      ‘we'll do a blues in C’
      • ‘Each book contains ballads, blues, Latin pieces and rags.’
      • ‘They did a blues and an assortment of standards.’
      • ‘I'm going to do a Blues and then I get into a Ballad and then...?’
      • ‘‘I love her because she would sing all over the song, rather than just do it straight, and she could sing a standard in a gritty gospel style then do a blues and just kill everyone in the room.’’
  • 2the bluesinformal Feelings of melancholy, sadness, or depression.

    ‘she's got the blues’
    • ‘Well, you try cleaning the algae from an Olympic sized swimming pool on a balmy summer's day without getting some form of the blues!’
    • ‘It's an attack of poison ivy, teenage angst and the blues all rolled into one unscratchable scourge.’
    • ‘I've got a blue motel room, with a blue bedspread I've got the blues inside and outside my head…’
    • ‘Depression goes well beyond a simple case of the blues.’
    • ‘Your bud's got the blues: you have a bud who's just not herself lately?’
    • ‘Chatting to this bubbly rowing ambassadress, it is hard to believe that she ever suffers from the blues, but settling for second best would signal negative feelings this time.’
    • ‘A collection of amusing animal photos as well as warm and inspirational texts designed to cheer up anyone who's got the blues.’
    • ‘I had a bad case of the heart burns; a bad case of the blues.’
    • ‘It also benefits from stunning scenery and has a climate to soothe all winter blues.’
    • ‘Depression is almost unknown to these individuals because they are all so optimistic and active that they have little time for self-pity or the blues.’
    • ‘Welford argues that there are three different forms of ‘postnatal distress’: the blues, PND and psychosis.’
    • ‘If you're suffering from the blues and want to see if a natural approach can help, discuss taking a medication with your doctor.’
    • ‘Talk about the blues, man - he just can't win.’
    • ‘You say you've got the blues in your alligator shoes.’
    • ‘He was basically a rich kid coming up, but he got the blues down deep in his own way.’
    • ‘Depression is more than getting a bad case of the blues.’
    • ‘Nearly everyone has had the blues at one time or another.’
    • ‘It's closing time at the last mall on Earth, so you'd best stock up on ‘medicine for the blues.’’
    • ‘Now we're learning that lower primates can get the blues, too.’
    • ‘A gents' hairdresser has got the barber's blues after thieves swiped the trademark poles which have stood outside his salon for 50 years.’
    depression, sadness, unhappiness, melancholy, misery, sorrow, gloominess, gloom, dejection, downheartedness, despondency, dispiritedness, low spirits, heavy-heartedness, glumness, moroseness, dismalness, despair
    View synonyms


Mid 18th century (in blues (sense 2)): elliptically from blue devils ‘depression or delirium tremens’.