doy·​en | \ ˈdȯi-ən How to pronounce doyen (audio) , -ˌ(y)en; ˈdwä-ˌyaⁿ(n) How to pronounce doyen (audio) \

Definition of doyen

1a : the senior member of a body or group
b : a person considered to be knowledgeable or uniquely skilled as a result of long experience in some field of endeavor
2 : the oldest example of a category

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Did You Know?

English picked up "doyen" from French in the 17th century. The French term in turn comes from the Late Latin word decanus, which itself comes from the Greek dekanos, meaning "chief of ten." A "doyen" can be a leader of a group, such as a diplomatic corps. In this regard, the word has been used to refer to someone who is specifically or tacitly allowed to speak for that group. More broadly, a "doyen" refers to a highly skilled and respected veteran of a particular field. The feminine form of "doyen" is "doyenne."

Examples of doyen in a Sentence

He is considered the doyen of political journalists. considered the doyen of American art critics
Recent Examples on the Web Yet Sir John Curtice, the doyen of British pollsters, who has recently updated his opinion surveys for NatCen, a research institute, concludes otherwise. The Economist, "Britain is heading for a hard Brexit. Voters now prefer none at all," 7 Dec. 2020 Daniel Yergin, oil sector doyen CNBC Big potential, but challenges to overcome: A look at offshore wind in the U.S. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy, presented by National Clean Energy Week: Biden struggling to explain fracking stance," 18 Sep. 2020 Fang and Bob Xu, the founder of ZhenFund and a doyen of the Chinese VC industry, encouraged her to take a more direct path. Yiren Lu, Wired, "A Week of Uncontrolled Sobbing at a Chinese Business Seminar," 17 Aug. 2020 These are the questions that, over the past decade or so, jazz listeners have watched Salvant — now 30, and the unrivaled doyen of young jazz vocalists — work through. New York Times, "12 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 27 Feb. 2020 Luckily, Duke doyen Mike Krzyzewski sees the light where some of his football counterparts don’t., "California’s Fair Pay to Play Act was signed into law," 20 Oct. 2019 In a nation where laws permit any citizen to file lawsuits against anyone perceived of immorality or tarnishing the country’s image, the 69-year-old lawyer is the profession’s doyen. Washington Post, "Egypt’s conservative crusader puts belly dancers and pop stars in the dock," 28 Sep. 2019 In March, Netflix canceled the sitcom One Day at a Time despite it being celebrated as a doyen of wokeness. Adam Wilson, Harper's magazine, "Good Bad Bad Good," 16 Sep. 2019 This is Eisenberg, after all, the doyen of the flinch and the frown. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“The Farewell” Mixes Mourning and Revelry," 12 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'doyen.' 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 doyen

1670, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for doyen

French, from Old French deien, from Late Latin decanus dean — more at dean

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Cite this Entry

“Doyen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for doyen



English Language Learners Definition of doyen

formal : a person who has a lot of experience in or knowledge about a particular profession, subject, etc.

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