doy·​en ˈdȯi-ən How to pronounce doyen (audio)
ˈdwä-ˌyaⁿ(n) How to pronounce doyen (audio)
: the senior member of a body or group
: a person considered to be knowledgeable or uniquely skilled as a result of long experience in some field of endeavor
: the oldest example of a category

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English picked up doyen from French in the 17th century. The French word in turn comes, via the Old French deien, 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 Theater doyen Peter Brook premiered a nine-hour play in 1985, which was followed by a five-hour film in 1989. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 24 July 2023 Variety talked with Carneiro, a telenovela doyen, as his series hit the LA Screenings as one of Globo’s flagship titles. Emiliano Granada, Variety, 24 May 2023 In another coup, two lead actors of opposing dispositions are brought on board: the global superstar Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), who rolls up in a flame-colored Lamborghini, and Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez), the doyen of serious theatre, who comes in a taxi. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 17 June 2022 There’s Randy, the doyen of the enterprise. Heather E. Goodman, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Feb. 2021 The British doyen of high-tech global cool, Norman Foster, has already begun assembling a brain trust to plan a reborn Kharkiv, an offer that irks some Ukrainian architects. Curbed, 12 May 2022 Arguably the doyen of modern population geneticists. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 25 Mar. 2011 Wilson is famous in large part for his authorship of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, and is arguably the doyen of American organismic biology. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 25 Aug. 2010 With relatively new leaders governing in Germany, Italy and Britain, Mr. Macron, 44, is as close to the doyen of European politics as anyone gets, his restlessness and questing mind a stimulus to some, a provocation to others. Roger Cohen, New York Times, 2 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'doyen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1670, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of doyen was in 1670


Dictionary Entries Near doyen

Cite this Entry

“Doyen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

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