If you've got the blues, you probably want to lie in bed and cry — or get out your guitar and sadly sing the blues.

Since the fourteenth century, the word blue has been used to mean "sad." The noun blues came into use in the 1700s to describe a state of sadness or melancholy. Around a hundred years later, a Black American musical genre adopted the word to describe its particular twelve-bar chord progression and folksy sound. Lyrics in blues music often describe hard times, struggles, and a particular kind of melancholy mood.

Definitions of blues

n a state of depression

“he had a bad case of the blues
blue devils, megrims, vapors, vapours
Type of:
a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity

n a type of folksong that originated among Black Americans at the beginning of the 20th century; has a melancholy sound from repeated use of blue notes

boogie, boogie-woogie
an instrumental version of the blues (especially for piano)
Type of:
African-American music, black music
music created by African-American musicians; early forms were songs that had a melodic line and a strong rhythmic beat with repeated choruses
folk ballad, folk song, folksong
a song that is traditionally sung by the common people of a region and forms part of their culture

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.