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 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 Flash forward to 2019, and the current doyen of the family business, Ben, has made his triumphant return to the chi-chi vacation spot. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "A Heritage Fragrance House Finds a New Home in Tony Palm Beach," 6 May 2019 The doyens of the European Union are also breathing a sigh of relief after Mattarella's intervention. Tim Lister, CNN, "Italy's populists are blocked as 'political referee' waves the red card," 28 May 2018 Wolfe, who died Monday at age 88, was known as a dandified doyen of the New Journalism, a reporter who embedded with hippies and race car drivers and astronauts, and later as a grandiose novelist. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Tom Wolfe reunited journalism with literature.," 15 May 2018 The doyen of Labour’s energy policy is not Clement Attlee, the prime minister who nationalised Britain’s fractured array of public and private energy suppliers. The Economist, "Robin Hood Energy, the company bringing power to the people," 3 May 2018

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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The first known use of doyen was in 1670

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Cite this Entry

“Doyen.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for doyen


How to pronounce doyen (audio) How to pronounce doyen (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on doyen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for doyen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with doyen Encyclopedia article about doyen

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showing steady, earnest care and effort

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