\ 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 We were overwhelmingly blessed with the number of things we were gifted off our registry—don't get that confused. Mary Shannon Wells, Southern Living, 4 June 2021 The anonymous street artist behind the original don't-call-it-iconic design descended on us once again and restored his trademark to one of Houston's prime spots of artwork real estate. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, 20 Apr. 2021 The goal instead was to get into the woods after the snow starts to melt and before tom turkeys gobble, a now-you-see-it-now-you-don't seasonal window that is otherwise easy to miss. Star Tribune, 26 Mar. 2021 Distracting movements—don't rub your face, play with your hair, etc. Sara Steever, Forbes, 19 Mar. 2021 Pieces of a Puzzle: There's a reason stocks, bonds—and all asset classes really—don't move in a straight line. Jj Kinahan, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2021 Better yet, makeup products or ingredients—such as silicone—don't compromise the blender's biodegradability. Madge Maril, Harper's BAZAAR, 9 Feb. 2021 The Nimitz- and Ford-class carriers, Wasp- and America-class amphibious assault ships, and Japanese Izumo-class carriers don't—or won't—use ski ramps. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 6 Jan. 2021 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, 3 Nov. 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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Cite this Entry

“Don't.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 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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