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 But in this spooky episode set in the Irish countryside, somebody wants Jessica to believe a medieval castle is haunted by the ghost of a dead girl trapped in a dungeon. Emma Rubin, Vulture, 21 June 2021 Across the street, sleek installations in other vacant storefronts — a grave site, a dominatrix’s dungeon — were also sets for plays, one about greed, the other wrath. New York Times, 23 June 2021 Dark Souls and Doom both earned dungeon-crawling modules, and Riot Games themselves created a lavish, $100 League of Legends parlor game called Mechs vs. Minions. Luke Winkie, Wired, 9 June 2021 Each is able to attract certain monsters that the other dungeon managers cannot. Jason Bennett, Arkansas Online, 24 May 2021 The dungeon/raid ones should be able to be finished in one run of either. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 16 May 2021 There's a small hammam and a dungeon of a wine cellar with some stellar bottles, all available at near cost price, on the honor system. Lee Marshall, Travel + Leisure, 1 May 2021 The old ones were 20 years old and could best be described as early dungeon. Marni Jameson, orlandosentinel.com, 2 Apr. 2021 The pandemic has made the last year challenging for the Manhattan housing market, particularly on the luxury end, and this specific luxury house served as a pedophilia dungeon for the past 20 years. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, 6 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for dungeon

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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

19 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dungeon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dungeon. Accessed 28 Jul. 2021.

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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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