1 of 2

verb (1)

less common spelling of douse

transitive verb

: to plunge into water
Blanch the green beans then douse them in a bath of ice water.
: to throw a liquid on : drench
The books were doused in gasoline and set ablaze.
doused herself in perfume
: slosh
[originally in argot use (douse the glim meaning "extinguish the light") and perhaps of distinct origin] : extinguish
douse the lights
douse the blaze

intransitive verb

: to fall or become plunged into water


2 of 2

verb (2)

dowsed; dowsing

intransitive verb

: to use a divining rod

transitive verb

: to find (something, such as water) by dowsing

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Water your potted mums from below the flowers and foliage rather than dowsing the whole thing with a blasting overhead shower. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 20 Oct. 2017 There were drug addicts and alcoholics and women who dowsed their cleaning rags with disinfectant and huffed those poisonous and intoxicating fumes into their lungs. Sherman Alexie, The New Yorker, 5 June 2017

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

Word History


Verb (2)

origin unknown

First Known Use

Verb (2)

1691, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of dowse was in 1691

Dictionary Entries Near dowse

Cite this Entry

“Dowse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2

variant of douse


2 of 2 verb
: to use a divining rod especially to find water
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