der·​ring-do ˌder-iŋ-ˈdü How to pronounce derring-do (audio)
: daring action : daring
deeds of derring-do

Did you know?

Derring-do is a quirky holdover from Middle English that came to occupy its present place in the language by a series of mistakes and misunderstandings. In Middle English, dorring don meant simply "daring to do." The phrase was misprinted as derrynge do in a 15th-century work by poet John Lydgate, and Edmund Spenser took it up from there. (A glossary to Spenser's work defined it as "manhood and chevalrie.") Literary author Sir Walter Scott and others brought the noun into modern use.

Examples of derring-do in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In this version, the warring Capulet and Montague families are competing circus troupes who face off in acts of derring-do, while a secret romantic drama unfolds between Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Sep. 2023 In 2019, Prigozhin began releasing Hollywood-style movies that celebrate mercenary derring-do. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 2 Sep. 2023 Her show documents her derring-do of taking on unusual challenges ranging from training as an astronaut to rehearsing for a Broadway show to learning to becoming a 911 dispatcher. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 27 Aug. 2023 Expect to see the young stars of tomorrow in all manner of derring-do, from aerial acts to juggling. Globe Staff,, 9 Aug. 2023 Robinson remains a standard of derring-do as a base runner. Bob Ryan,, 14 July 2023 In Top Gun: Maverick, the big Tom Cruise blockbuster of 2022, the enemy was purposefully obscure—a villainous but unspecified nation ready to be outdone by our hero’s guts and derring-do without alienating any overseas theatergoers. David Sims, The Atlantic, 5 July 2023 The very idea that this show, so defined by the electricity of its kitchen, would set nearly the entire second season in a building that very conspicuously doesn’t even have its gas on, is a staggering feat of televisual derring-do. Phillip MacIak, The New Republic, 30 June 2023 What follows is an overlong concatenation of OK set pieces featuring oodles of predictable globe-hopping derring-do. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'derring-do.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English dorring don daring to do, from dorring (gerund of dorren to dare) + don to do

First Known Use

1579, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of derring-do was in 1579


Dictionary Entries Near derring-do

Cite this Entry

“Derring-do.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: daring action : daring
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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