\ ˈdän How to pronounce don (audio) \
donned; donning

Definition of don

 (Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to put on (an article of clothing) donned his hat and gloves
2 : to wrap oneself in : take on sense 3a the donning of new and more tyrannous moralities— Edward Sapir



Definition of don (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : a head (see head entry 1 sense 6a), tutor, or fellow (see fellow sense 5) in a college of Oxford or Cambridge University she didn't want to be a don's wife and live in Oxford forever— Virginia Woolf broadly : a college or university professor
2 [Italian, title of respect, from donno, literally, lord, from Latin dominus] : a powerful Mafia leader
3 : a Spanish nobleman or gentleman used as a title prefixed to the Christian name
4 archaic : a person of consequence : grandee the great dons of wit— John Dryden

Definition of DON (Entry 3 of 4)

director of nursing


geographical name
\ ˈdän How to pronounce Don (audio) \

Definition of Don (Entry 4 of 4)

river 1224 miles (1969 kilometers) long in Russia in Europe flowing southeast and then southwest into the Sea of Azov

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for don

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of don in a Sentence

Verb He donned his gloves and hat. she donned her best gown for the ball
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But the 38-year-old stay-at -home mom plans to don her mask, grab her hand sanitizer and head to her polling place in Royal Oak on Election Day. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "How to run a primary in a pandemic: Michigan clerks get a crash course," 2 Aug. 2020 Gleeson isn't the first in Hollywood to don a blond wig and imitate Trump's voice. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "'I'm the president now': Brendan Gleeson is an uncanny Donald Trump in 'The Comey Rule' first look," 30 July 2020 The revelation that Trump would don a face mask at Walter Reed came during a discussion about coronavirus testing. Meagan Flynn, Washington Post, "Trump says doctors were ‘very surprised’ by his ‘unbelievable’ results on a cognitive test," 10 July 2020 In the meantime, the best option may simply be to don a cotton mask, take a deep if uncomfortable breath, and work on making masks feel run-of-the-mill. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How to make masks that everyone will want to wear," 10 July 2020 Coffee lovers will be required to don a mask before getting Starbucks anywhere in the United States starting next week. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Starbucks announces it will soon require masks at stores in every state," 9 July 2020 Javicia Leslie will don the iconic bat suit and cape as the new series lead. Shamika Sanders, Essence, "Batwoman Is A Black Woman, Javicia Leslie Cast As The CW Lead," 9 July 2020 In two seasons at Cincinnati, Van Exel cemented himself as the second-best guard to ever don a Bearcats uniform. Keith Jenkins, The Enquirer, "Opinion: UC Bearcats beat writer Keith Jenkins' top-5 men's hoops players of all time," 6 July 2020 After growing up watching Missions games at Wolff Stadium, Brown jumped at the opportunity to don the Flying Chanclas uniform. Greg Luca,, "Reagan product Porter Brown relishing opportunity with Flying Chanclas de San Antonio," 4 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Mounting a knackered horse and dragging a fat old farmer, Sancho, in his wake, the don declares undying love for an ordinary girl out of her depth. Jeanette Winterson, New York Times, "Salman Rushdie Updates ‘Don Quixote’ for the Digital Age," 3 Sep. 2019 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had long concluded there were insufficient benefits to recommend that the public don masks and that the practice risks diverting vital protective gear from front-line medical workers. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Trump upends advice on using face masks even as he announces it," 3 Apr. 2020 In Devs, Amaya is run by its CEO, Forest (Nick Offerman), who wears earthy flannels and dons an unkempt beard. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "In “Devs,” creator Alex Garland sees Silicon Valley for what it really is," 27 Mar. 2020 The lottery will open on Friday, April 24 at 8 am and close on Tuesday, April 28 at 8 pm—don 't worry, the event will have its dates set in stone by then. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "The Great Smoky Mountains Synchronous Firefly Event Is Back— Here's What You Need to Know," 6 Mar. 2020 Adding insult to injury, Schiff appears regularly on cable TV, which Trump watches obsessively at times, delivering sober take-downs of the president and comparing him to a Mafia don. Los Angeles Times, "Trump targets Adam Schiff as public enemy No. 1," 3 Oct. 2019 With John James Audubon's stunning bird prints forming a blockbuster exhibition at Rosecliff mansion this year, the flower show dons ornithological plumage of its own., "Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market," 14 June 2016 By the time of his death, Shonke Mon-thi^ was one of three living men who had earned all 13 o-don, or war honors, given unanimously by his nation. Taína Caragol, Smithsonian Magazine, "Recognition of Major Osage Leader and Warrior Opens a New Window Into History," 20 Feb. 2020 Nick, for his part, dons Tom Cruise's classic white shirt, socks, and underwear to slide across the floor singing into a trophy like in Risky Business toward Priyanka, who wears a similar outfit. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Jonas Brothers "What a Man Gotta Do" Music Video Stars Sophie Turner, Priyanka Chopra, and Danielle Jonas," 17 Jan. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of don


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1523, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for don


Middle English, contraction of do on


Spanish, from Latin dominus master — more at dame

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about don

Time Traveler for don

Time Traveler

The first known use of don was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for don

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Don.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for don


How to pronounce Don (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of don

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal + old-fashioned : to put on (a piece of clothing)



English Language Learners Definition of don (Entry 2 of 2)

British : a teacher in a college or university especially : a teacher at Oxford or Cambridge University
informal : a powerful Mafia leader


\ ˈdän How to pronounce don (audio) \
donned; donning

Kids Definition of don

: to put on don a cap

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on don

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for don

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with don

Spanish Central: Translation of don

Nglish: Translation of don for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of don for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about don

Comments on don

What made you want to look up don? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!