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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Did You Know?

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

Tour the grand, whitewashed European quarters and then descend to the dungeons, haunting reminders of one of history’s most barbaric chapters. National Geographic, "Africa by Private Jet," 12 June 2019 And the designer has hinted at plans for new battle modes, allowing for solo play and dungeon-crawling adventure scenarios. Owen Duffy, Ars Technica, "Wildlands may be the slickest, simplest fantasy skirmish game ever made," 1 Dec. 2018 His organization began to crumble amid sensational reports about The Vow alleging its members were held down and branded in ceremonies at a ‘‘sorority house’’ for them that had a mock dungeon. Tom Hays, BostonGlobe.com, "Self-help guru convicted in lurid sex-trafficking case," 19 June 2019 The festival also features a photo competition, elephant rides, a petting zoo, archery, chess, a dart toss, a climbing wall, a dungeon museum and more. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Know, "Hear ye, hear ye! Make haste to the Colorado Renaissance Festival," 18 June 2019 Minecraft Dungeons blends the core game’s blocky artwork with what appears to be Diablo-style dungeon crawling, complete with 4-player co-op both locally and online. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "41 must-see PC games at E3 2019: Watch every trailer," 15 June 2019 While details were scarce, the teaser trailer showed Link and Zelda exploring a dungeon together. Allen Kim, CNN, "Sequel to Zelda, Smash Bros. DLC characters and more revealed at E3 2019," 11 June 2019 After a few years, not even a dungeon was interesting. Lauren Hough, Harper's magazine, "Larry the Cable Gal," 10 Mar. 2019 Today, homeowners are coming out of the dungeon. Home... Cecilie Rohwedder, WSJ, "The New Mansion Must: A Media Room," 7 Feb. 2019

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.

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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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Statistics for dungeon

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for dungeon

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

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More Definitions for dungeon



English Language Learners Definition of dungeon

: a dark underground prison in a castle


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

Kids Definition of dungeon

: a dark usually underground prison

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More from Merriam-Webster on dungeon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dungeon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dungeon

Spanish Central: Translation of dungeon

Nglish: Translation of dungeon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dungeon for Arabic Speakers

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