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

Definition of dungeon

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Today, homeowners are coming out of the dungeon. Home... Cecilie Rohwedder, WSJ, "The New Mansion Must: A Media Room," 7 Feb. 2019 Root Cole Wehrle, Leder Games, 2-4 players, 60-90 minutes, age 10+ Two years ago, Leder Games’ asymmetric dungeon crawler Vast was the sleeper hit of Gen Con. Aaron Zimmerman, Ars Technica, "The hottest new board games from Gen Con 2018," 11 Aug. 2018 Today at Minecon, developer Mojang revealed a new dungeon-crawler set in the blocky universe. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Minecraft is getting a dungeon-crawling spinoff next year," 29 Sep. 2018 In a skit where a kid is shackled in a dungeon, he's warned not to mess with his shackles. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, "14 Outrageous Facts About Nickelodeon Slime," 10 Dec. 2018 Directed by the sardonic Greek Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) and boasting crackerjack performances by its three female leads (Colman is indelible), this gleefully nasty fable offers comedy as black as a dungeon. John Powers, Vogue, "These Were 2018’s 12 Best Movies," 12 Dec. 2018 The core controls are identical, as well: players descend into dungeons with a default whip attack, a limited number of bombs and climbing ropes, and an edge-grabbing jump move. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "The 16 surprising new games that made PAX West an absolute blast," 9 Sep. 2018 Similarly, my first, pre-launch experience with Dark Souls was hampered by the lack of an online community to leave in-game hints or invade my solitary dungeon crawl. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Observations and lessons from two decades of writing about video games," 25 Nov. 2018 The dungeon master has a real military In a sense, the caravan standoff is all conservative role-playing, a set of tribal bonding rituals and shared narratives built around group identity and hostility toward outsiders. David Roberts, Vox, "The caravan “invasion” and America’s epistemic crisis," 2 Nov. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dungeon

Statistics for dungeon

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dungeon

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on dungeon

What made you want to look up dungeon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!