dan·​der | \ ˈdan-dər How to pronounce dander (audio) \

Definition of dander

1 : dandruff specifically : minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin that may be allergenic
2 : anger, temper now don't get your dander up

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Did You Know?

How did "dander" acquire its "temper" sense? Etymologists have come up with a few possibilities, but nothing is known for sure. Some experts have proposed, tongue-in-cheek, that the meaning stems from the image of an angry person tearing out his or her hair by the fistful, scattering dandruff in the process. Some think it may come from a West Indian word dander, which refers to a kind of ferment and suggests "rising" anger (in English, "ferment" can mean either "an agent capable of causing fermentation" or "a state of unrest or excitement"). Yet another proposed possibility is that the anger sense was imported to America by early Dutch colonists and is from their phrase op donderen, meaning "to burst into a sudden rage."

Examples of dander in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Just a quick refresher: An allergic reaction occurs when your body perceives a harmless substance—such as certain foods, pollen, or pet dander—as a threat. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "3 Common Allergy Rashes—and What They Look Like," 27 Apr. 2021 That helped recast the exposures that kids received in those observational studies—to animals, other children, dung, dander, and dust—not as infectious threats, but as opportunities to stock their microbiomes with a diverse array of organisms. Maryn Mckenna, Wired, "Covid Lockdowns Prevented Other Infections. Is That Good?," 26 Apr. 2021 These can include fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5), carbon monoxide, ozone, radon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), biological contaminants (pet dander or dust mites, for example), and more. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, "Five ways to improve the quality of the air in your home," 11 Apr. 2021 Pet dander can be a big problem, especially for people with allergies. Michael Ray, chicagotribune.com, "Which air purifier is best for pet dander?," 2 Apr. 2021 The air purifier has a true HEPA filter which captures dust mites, pollen and pet dander, as well as a pre-filter and charcoal filter to absorb odors and trap large dust particles and pet hair. Zoe Malin, NBC News, "CDC guidelines update: Face masks and fully-vaccinated people," 12 Mar. 2021 Pet dander, along with dust, pollen, smoke, mold spores and even some bacteria and viruses are captured by these filters. Michael Ray, chicagotribune.com, "Which air purifier is best for pet dander?," 2 Apr. 2021 That icky thesis isn't really true, but mattresses do harbor pet dander, mold and other noxious substances, which can be distressing and even harmful to people who suffer from asthma or other conditions. Gregory Mcnamee, CNN, "Spring cleaning: Science and allergy relief meet at the end of a broom," 20 Mar. 2021 Larger blankets may cover an entire sofa, while the largest sizes fit over a bed to protect bedding from cat hair and dander. Michael Pollick, chicagotribune.com, "Best blankets for cat hair," 17 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dander.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dander

1786, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dander

alteration of dandruff

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Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dander.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dander. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for dander


dan·​der | \ ˈdan-dər How to pronounce dander (audio) \

Kids Definition of dander

1 : tiny scales from hair, feathers, or skin that may cause allergic reactions
2 : anger entry 2 The insults got my dander up.


dan·​der | \ ˈdan-dər How to pronounce dander (audio) \

Medical Definition of dander

: dandruff specifically : minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin that may act as allergens

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