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[duhn-juh n] /ˈdʌn dʒən/
a strong, dark prison or cell, usually underground, as in a medieval castle.
the keep or stronghold of a castle; donjon.
Origin of dungeon
1250-1300; Middle English dungeo(u)n, dongeoun, dungun < Middle French donjon < Vulgar Latin *domniōn- (stem of *domniō) keep, mastery, syncopated variant of *dominiōn- dominion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dungeon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Meanwhile months passed, and Calderon still languished in his dungeon.

    Calderon The Courtier Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The other man had his back towards the dungeon, and Barnaby could only see his form.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • He said he thought it best to have him thrust into a dungeon.

    The Story of Don Quixote

    Arvid Paulson, Clayton Edwards, and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • The dungeon, the chain, the lash, the wooden jellab—what else was left to him?

    The Scapegoat Hall Caine
  • I felt like a prisoner who was about to escape from a dungeon.

British Dictionary definitions for dungeon


a close prison cell, often underground
a variant of donjon
Word Origin
C14: from Old French donjon; related to Latin dominus master
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dungeon

c.1300, "great tower of a castle," from Old French donjon "great tower of a castle" (12c.), from Gallo-Romance *dominionem, from Late Latin dominium, from Latin dominus "master" (of the castle; see domain). Sense of "castle keep" led to "strong (underground) cell" in English early 14c. The original sense went with the variant donjon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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