\ ˈhȯnt How to pronounce haunt (audio) , ˈhänt \
haunted; haunting; haunts

Definition of haunt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to visit often : frequent spends a lot of time haunting bookstores
b : to continually seek the company of haunting celebrities impostors that haunt the official in foreign ports— Van Wyck Brooks
2a : to have a disquieting or harmful effect on : trouble problems we ignore now will come back to haunt us
b : to recur constantly and spontaneously to the tune haunted her
c : to reappear continually in a sense of tension that haunts his writing
3 : to visit or inhabit as a ghost believed that the house was haunted Spirits are supposed to haunt the places where their bodies most resorted …— Charles Dickens

intransitive verb

1 : to stay around or persist : linger a haunting fragrance
2 : to appear habitually as a ghost not far from … where she haunted appeared for a short time a much more remarkable spirit— W. B. Yeats


\ ˈhȯnt How to pronounce haunt (audio) , ˈhänt, sense 2 is usually ˈhant \

Definition of haunt (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a place habitually frequented a favorite haunt of college kids
2 chiefly dialectal : ghost

Other Words from haunt


haunter noun
hauntingly \ ˈhȯn-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce haunt (audio) , ˈhän-​ \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for haunt

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of haunt in a Sentence

Verb Some people believe that the ghost of an old sea captain haunts the beach. If you ignore the problem, it will come back to haunt you. Their failure to plan ahead is now coming back to haunt them. The tune haunted me all day. Noun The restaurant became one of her favorite haunts. one of their favorite after-school haunts is Joe's Pizza See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Eli is consumed by a secret from his past that may have come back to haunt him in an unexpected way that could ruin relationships – both his own and others. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, 9 May 2022 To critics, such a raw exercise of power suggests DeSantis is operating with a sense of invincibility that could come back to haunt him. Los Angeles Times, 25 Apr. 2022 Now, as Musk ramps up his battle to buy Twitter Inc., the lingering ramifications of his prior use of the social media platform may come back to haunt him. Joel Rosenblatt, Fortune, 23 Apr. 2022 Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions come back to haunt them. Rich Heileman, cleveland, 1 Apr. 2022 Observers warn that Macron’s phantom campaign could come back to haunt him. Time, 1 Apr. 2022 As the war in Ukraine enters its second month, Mr. Zemmour’s comment has come back to haunt him. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 Mar. 2022 Strong Studios’ initial intellectual property slate includes Safehaven, a supernatural horror series based on the graphic novel about a female comic book artist whose drawings come alive to haunt her. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Mar. 2022 These are the four ghosts who haunt those troubled waters. Daniel Yergin, The Atlantic, 15 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The owners of Slash Run, the low-key Petworth haunt loved for its punk shows and quirky burgers, opened their second venue in Brookland on March 19. Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2022 Pinder had been on a road trip and noticed the haunt’s unusual name while looking up directions. Hilton Dresden, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Apr. 2022 Eventually the haunt begins, and one player becomes a traitor and tries to beat the others. Sean Mcdonnell, cleveland, 12 Apr. 2022 Even the line at the late-night haunt Voodoo Doughnut was surprisingly short compared with past years. Ramin Setoodeh, Variety, 15 Mar. 2022 The gothic haunt has lived a full life over the last century. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, 5 Feb. 2022 The salon became a regular haunt for 20- and 30-something conservatives located along the Washington-New York-Cambridge axis, including Bruce Bawer, Richard Brookhiser, David Brooks, Roger Kimball and John Podhoretz. New York Times, 14 Jan. 2022 When the pandemic struck, Elgin switched to a new Halloween event, a drive-thru haunt at Wing Park called Little Park of Horrors. Gloria Casas, chicagotribune.com, 18 Mar. 2022 Buckley cemented their fateful alliance over lunch at Paone’s, a regular haunt near the NR office, charming her in his (nearly) inimitable style. Sam Adler-bell, The New Republic, 7 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of haunt


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for haunt


Middle English haunten, hanten "to frequent, frequent the company of, dwell in, engage in, practice (a vice or virtue), perform," borrowed from Anglo-French hanter (also continental Old French), of uncertain origin

Note: The origin of the French word has been much argued over in the past century and a half. Given the initial h aspiré (meaning the initial h was pronounced into early modern French and still blocks elision of preceding vowels), the word has usually been given a Germanic source. Perhaps most frequently it has been traced to the Old Norse verb reflected in Old Icelandic heimta "to draw, pull, call on, claim, crave, get back, recover," despite semantic and phonetic objections. Also proffered has been a presumed Old Low Franconian *haimiþōn "to shelter, accommodate." Both etyma are derivatives of Germanic *haima- "dwelling" (see home entry 1). The possibility of a spoken Latin source has been revived in Dictionnaire étymologique de l'ancien français (on line), which suggests *ambitāre, from Latin ambitus "circuit" (see ambit)—see full discussion and bibliography there.


Middle English haunt, hant "frequent visiting, resort, a place frequented, habitual practice of something, usage," borrowed from Anglo-French hant, haunt, derivative of hanter "to frequent, haunt entry 1"

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

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Haunt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haunt. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for haunt


\ ˈhȯnt How to pronounce haunt (audio) \
haunted; haunting

Kids Definition of haunt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to visit or live in as a ghost Spirits haunt the house.
2 : to visit often … I began haunting the docks when the ferry … came in.— Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved
3 : to come to mind frequently The song haunts me.



Kids Definition of haunt (Entry 2 of 2)

: a place often visited The café is her favorite haunt.

More from Merriam-Webster on haunt

Nglish: Translation of haunt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of haunt for Arabic Speakers


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