1 n-sing A countdown is the counting aloud of numbers in reverse order before something happens, especially before a spacecraft is launched.
also no det
The countdown has begun for the launch later today of the American space shuttle...
2 n-count The countdown to an event is the period of time leading up to the event.
...the countdown to the next election.

I think the first example sentence is in the wrong place. It actually illustrates the second definition: counting aloud of numbers only lasts a few seconds. If it has already started, then the launch can't be later in the day.

Do you agree with me? Thanks.

  • 1
    It's not always saying numbers aloud. It can also be a visual display of the time until the action.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


Not necessarily. The countdown for launch can begin hours before launch.

Follow along with the countdown! The NASA Launch Blog is the only place online to get latest-breaking launch information directly from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Live countdown coverage will begin about six hours prior to launch and will conclude about 10 minutes after liftoff, when orbit insertion is complete. Coverage includes frequent updates on the countdown status and videos of key events.

--NASA Blog

So if your dictionary example came after the countdown had started, then it is accurate.

  • The Apollo 11 countdown was scheduled for 93 hours, but the launch director took advantage of extra time and inserted four rest periods totalling 40 hours. Commented May 13, 2023 at 7:26

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