\ ˈdōnt How to pronounce don't (audio) \

Definition of don't

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : do not
2 : does not



Definition of don't (Entry 2 of 2)

: a command or entreaty not to do something a list of dos and don'ts

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Usage of Don't


Don't is the earliest attested contraction of does not and until about 1900 was the standard spoken form in the U.S. (it survived as spoken standard longer in British English). Dialect surveys find it more common in the speech of the less educated than in that of the educated; in those places (such as the Midland and southern Atlantic seaboard regions) where it has lasted in educated speech, it is most common with older informants. Surveys of attitudes toward usage show it more widely disapproved in 1971 than it had been 40 years earlier. Its chief use in edited prose is in fiction for purposes of characterization. It is sometimes used consciously, like ain't, to gain an informal effect.

Examples of don't in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And that means that low levels of renewable power—less than 10 percent of the power on grid—don't incur much in the way of costs, since the grid is already prepared to handle levels of fluctuation. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "As renewable power prices drop, researchers tally up their added costs," 3 Nov. 2020 Smith used his legs to give himself extra time and then picked apart Patricia’s soft, bend-but-don't break zone. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Matt Prater's bomb keeps Matt Patricia's Detroit Lions tenure alive another day," 15 Nov. 2020 Indeed, most people who test positive—one study in Hong Kong put the number at 69 percent—don't spread the disease at all. Christopher Cox, Wired, "The Vulnerable Can Wait. Vaccinate the Super-Spreaders First," 10 Nov. 2020 And if Senate Republicans—who are uneasy with going above $1 trillion—don't pony up more, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might not be on board. Anne Sraders, Fortune, "Stimulus update: How the election will shape the next aid package," 3 Nov. 2020 Still, Louisville has a bend-but-don't-break defensive attitude right now. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "What does Louisville football need to do to beat Virginia Tech? Here are 3 things," 30 Oct. 2020 The reality of those accelerative forces are substantial enough to cause physical discomfort—don't take a 765LT on track after a large lunch. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "2021 McLaren 765LT: The Sensible Senna," 29 Sep. 2020 Nor was the bend-but-don't-break strategy working early against Jacksonville on Thursday night. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "It's time for Detroit Lions' Matt Patricia to stop being stubborn," 27 Sep. 2020 The Colts' defense is predicated on a bend-don't-break mentality. Jim Ayello, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Rookies, run game, defense carry Colts in 28-11 blowout of Vikings," 20 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'don't.' 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 don't


1639, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1894, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for don't

Time Traveler

The first known use of don't was in 1639

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Statistics for don't

Cite this Entry

“Don't.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for don't



English Language Learners Definition of don't

informal : something that a person should not do


\ ˈdōnt How to pronounce don't (audio) \

Kids Definition of don't

: do not

More from Merriam-Webster on don't

Nglish: Translation of don't for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of don't for Arabic Speakers

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