noun, often capitalized
dau·​phin | \ ˈdȯ-fən How to pronounce dauphin (audio) , ˈdō-; ˌdō-ˈfaⁿ How to pronounce dauphin (audio) \

Definition of dauphin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the eldest son of a king of France


geographical name
Dau·​phin | \ ˈdȯ-fin How to pronounce Dauphin (audio) \

Definition of Dauphin (Entry 2 of 2)

island in southwestern Alabama at the entrance to Mobile Bay

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From 1350 to 1830, dauphin was the title given to the eldest son of a king of France, or the heir apparent to the French crown. The title was established by the royal house of France through the purchase of lands known as the Dauphiné in 1349 by the future Charles V. The Dauphiné was a region and former province in what is now southeastern France. It was sold to King Philip VI of France and ultimately became a grant of land to the eldest son of the French king, who assumed the title (dauphin) attached to the land. The area had a quasi-independent status until it was annexed to France in 1457.

Examples of dauphin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun During the outbreak of 1711 alone, smallpox killed the Holy Roman emperor Joseph I; three siblings of the future Holy Roman emperor Francis I; and the heir to the French throne, the grand dauphin Louis. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2021 In actuality, Mary was first betrothed to the dauphin and then later to Charles V, all for political gain and matters of diplomacy. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 16 Nov. 2020 Mary’s great-aunt Louise de Bourbon-Vendôme, Abbess of Fontevraud, sent her the prayer book between 1558—the year the young queen married the French dauphin, Francis II—and 1561, when Francis died unexpectedly at age 16. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 June 2020 Like a dauphin’s, his private routine is often observed. Kennedy Fraser, Vogue, 19 Feb. 2019 Her intended, Louis-August (Jason Schwartzman), current dauphin of France and future King Louis XVI, is the 18th century equivalent of a shy A/V nerd, and completely incapable of standing up for his new bride in a court of gossips and mean girls. refinery29.com, 10 July 2018 In 1955, Dior duly hired the unusually talented young man as an assistant, and Saint Laurent soon became the master’s acknowledged dauphin, entrusted with more and more design responsibilities. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 12 June 2018 Others, like Huck Finn's dubious riverboat dauphin, count on the people around them to be ignorant of aristocratic mores and genealogical charts and awed by the idea of nobility. Sadie Stein, Town & Country, 26 Feb. 2017 The party closed ranks after a bitter primary in December, when Mr Abdo Benítez defeated Santiago Peña, the dauphin of the outgoing president, Horacio Cartes. The Economist, 28 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dauphin.' 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 dauphin


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dauphin


Middle English dolphin, from Anglo-French dolphyn, from Old French dalfin, title of lords of the Dauphiné, from Dalfin, a surname

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The first known use of dauphin was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Dauphin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dauphin. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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