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to count backwards to an event that will start when zero is reached. The project manager was counting down—getting ready for the launch of the rocket. I can still hear the captain counting down: "Five, four, three, two, one, zero, blast off!"
count down (to something)
to count backwards to the time when something is expected to happen They had a clock that counted down the days, hours, and minutes to the new year. If you're counting down, spring is just ten days away.
1. Count backward from any number to zero to indicate time, as in The final seconds before take off were counted down: 10, 9, 8, etc. The down in this term refers to the decreasing size of the numbers. This usage originated in connection with the firing of missiles and spacecraft and has since been broadened to such events as the roll call of states at a political convention. [c. 1950]
2. Make final preparations for an event, as in Hong Kong was counting down to the day when it became part of mainland China. This usage is derived from def. 1. [Late 1950s]
1. To count backward to zero, especially when leading to the start of an important event: With only ten seconds until midnight, the crowd counted down to the beginning of the new year.
2. To anticipate something eagerly: The children are counting down to their summer vacation.