dun·​nage ˈdə-nij How to pronounce dunnage (audio)
: loose materials used to support and protect cargo in a ship's hold
also : padding in a shipping container

Did you know?

Is There a dunnage and Cheese Connection?

Etymologists don't know the exact origin of dunnage. Some have pointed out the similarity of the word to dünne twige, a Low German term meaning "brushwood," but no one has ever proven the two are related. Others have speculated that it derives from Dunlop, the name of a famous cheese-making town in Scotland; however, neither the town nor the cheese has any connection to dunnage. Truth be told, though dunnage has been with us since the 15th century, its etymological history remains a mystery.

Examples of dunnage in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The company operates traditional Speyside dunnage warehouses with earthen floors and barrels stacked three high. Joseph V Micallef, Forbes, 7 Jan. 2023 Not surprising, it was matured in Warehouse #2, an old dunnage warehouse just 150 feet from the shore of the Cromarty Firth on the North Sea. Joseph V Micallef, Forbes, 6 Nov. 2021 The mash tun, the still room and the dunnage warehouse all date back to the original 1830 construction. Joseph V Micallef, Forbes, 27 Apr. 2021 Orbis manufactures plastic reusable totes, bulk containers, pallets and dunnage. Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4 Apr. 2018

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

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dunnage was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near dunnage

Cite this Entry

“Dunnage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dunnage. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on dunnage

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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