dun·​geon | \ ˈdən-jən How to pronounce dungeon (audio) \

Definition of dungeon

1 : donjon
2 : a dark usually underground prison or vault

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The words for two different parts of a castle come from the same source. The word dungeon, meaning “a dark usually underground prison,” comes from the French word donjon, which also gives us our English word donjon, meaning “an inner tower in a castle.” Dungeon was first used in English in the 14th century for the strong tower in the inner part of the castle. Defenders could retreat to this tower if attackers got inside the castle walls. Part of the tower usually included an underground room, the dungeon, usually used for prisoners. Throughout its history, the word dungeon has had many spellings. Sometimes it was spelled donjon like the French word it comes from, and sometimes in other ways. In time the spelling donjon came to be used mostly for the castle tower, and the spelling dungeon mostly for the underground room or prison.

Examples of dungeon in a Sentence

The king threw them in the dungeon.
Recent Examples on the Web And the result was locked away in a dungeon so deep that even Martin has never been allowed to see it. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 July 2022 She should be handed the keys to every castle, dungeon and pantry in the kingdom. Giovana Gelhoren, Peoplemag, 26 Aug. 2022 Old raid and dungeon pools will get new perks and their own Origin Traits. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 14 Aug. 2022 The movie presents him not as a complex figure of evil but as a pure movie archetype: the psycho with a dungeon next door. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 18 June 2022 Honor Among Thieves cast attended Comic-Con as the first trailer for the upcoming film was released — and Grant couldn't help but joke about a different kind of dungeon along the way. Tommy Mcardle, PEOPLE.com, 22 July 2022 Was Freddie Freeman banished to life in a dungeon, to roam the desert alone for eternity? Los Angeles Times, 2 July 2022 Steve, Nancy, and D&D dungeon master Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn)—easily this season's breakout character—got trapped in the Upside Down. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 17 July 2022 Pledge levels for Local Legends include digital goals, physical collections and even crossover elements with the wildly successful Bardsung: Legend of the Ancient Forge dungeon exploration board game. Rob Wieland, Forbes, 1 July 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of dungeon

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dungeon

Middle English dongeon, donjon, from Anglo-French donjun, from Vulgar Latin *domnion-, domnio keep, mastery, from Latin dominus lord — more at dominate

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Time Traveler for dungeon

Time Traveler

The first known use of dungeon was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near dungeon

Dungeness crab



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Last Updated

17 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dungeon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dungeon. Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for dungeon


dun·​geon | \ ˈdən-jən How to pronounce dungeon (audio) \

Kids Definition of dungeon

: a dark usually underground prison


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