dread·​nought ˈdred-ˌnȯt How to pronounce dreadnought (audio)
: a warm garment of thick cloth
also : the cloth
[Dreadnought, British battleship]
: one that is among the largest or most powerful of its kind

Did you know?

Fear nothing - that is essentially what "dread" plus "nought" means. The name might seem a strange one for a garment, but if you consider that dreadnoughts were worn onboard ships, you can appreciate the colorful name perhaps as much as the seafaring men must have appreciated the thick protection dreadnoughts offered from the elements. The clothes and the cloth, first called "fearnought" in the late 18th century, came long before the battleship. Not until 1906 did the British Navy launch HMS Dreadnought, the first battleship to have a main armament consisting entirely of big guns all of the same caliber. All ships of this type were then called "dreadnoughts." That particular type of battleship soon became obsolete, but their legacy lives on in the extended third sense of "dreadnought."

Examples of dreadnought in a Sentence

poor gas mileage did little to stem the popularity of that dreadnought of the roadways: the SUV
Recent Examples on the Web But the Pac-12’s once-mighty dreadnought, horribly captained, the geniuses who denied access to Texas and Oklahoma, went down in its own sea of incompetence and arrogance. San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Aug. 2023 Can Doukeris change this dreadnought’s direction? Geoff Colvin, Fortune, 6 Dec. 2021 Available in dreadnought and concert styles. Lauren Corona, chicagotribune.com, 25 Sep. 2020 What forces have brought this dreadnought to our shores? Dan Neil, WSJ, 6 Jan. 2022 The Tiffany diamond, a 128.54-carat dreadnought that Lady Gaga wore to the Academy Awards last year, was somewhere else. James Barron, New York Times, 13 Jan. 2020 In the summer of 1914, with nationalist agitation at its height, all the major European powers were armed and bristling, with millions of men in standing armies and dreadnoughts and howitzers galore, all ready to be mobilized within weeks. Zachary Karabell, WSJ, 30 Nov. 2018 The actual dreadnought was an early 20th century warship with big guns and steam power meant to be the apex predator of naval warfare, a deadly match for any other warship and a deliverer of terror through coastal bombardment. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, 18 Dec. 2017 The ship is the last surviving dreadnought class battleship and a veteran of both world wars. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, 17 May 2018

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

Word History

First Known Use

1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dreadnought was in 1806


Dictionary Entries Near dreadnought

Cite this Entry

“Dreadnought.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dreadnought. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


dread·​nought ˈdred-ˌnȯt How to pronounce dreadnought (audio)

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