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[duhn] /dʌn/
verb (used with object), dunned, dunning.
to make repeated and insistent demands upon, especially for the payment of a debt.
a person, especially a creditor, who duns another.
a demand for payment, especially a written one.
Origin of dun1
First recorded in 1620-30; origin obscure Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dunned
Historical Examples
  • Twenty-five dollars, and, by heavens, he dunned me for it just after we started.

    The Daughter of a Magnate

    Frank H. Spearman
  • I can stand to be dunned once in awhile, but I don't like to be frowned at.

    Old Ebenezer

    Opie Read
  • Men are not dunned so rigorously when they have just fallen into their fortunes.

    Ralph the Heir

    Anthony Trollope
  • Bennoch has been dunned for his gas-bill at Blackheath (only a pound or two) and has paid it.

    Hawthorne and His Circle Julian Hawthorne
  • The profanity fell upon Nevins from both the duns and the dunned.

    The Imitator Percival Pollard
  • And Wyeth was one of these creatures who could not stand to be dunned.

    The Forged Note Oscar Micheaux
  • He had never borrowed from a friend or been dunned by an importunate tradesman.

    The Valiants of Virginia Hallie Erminie Rives
  • Some months after, he dunned his neighbor for his pay for a cheese.

    Lectures on Language William S. Balch
  • He owes a lot here and there and has to be dunned frequently even for small amounts.

    The Hills of Refuge Will N. Harben
  • I'd rather have my reputation than riches, for my part, and before I make an end of this--who ever dunned me twice?

    The Satyricon, Complete Petronius Arbiter
British Dictionary definitions for dunned


verb duns, dunning, dunned
(transitive) to press or importune (a debtor) for the payment of a debt
a person, esp a hired agent, who importunes another for the payment of a debt
a demand for payment, esp one in writing
Word Origin
C17: of unknown origin


a brownish-grey colour
a horse of this colour
  1. an immature adult mayfly (the subimago), esp one of the genus Ephemera
  2. an artificial fly imitating this or a similar fly
adjective dunner, dunnest
of a dun colour
dark and gloomy
Word Origin
Old English dunn; related to Old Norse dunna wild duck, Middle Irish doun dark; see dusk
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 dunned



"to insist on payment of debt," 1620s, perhaps related to dunnen "to sound, resound, make a din" (c.1200, dialectal variant of din), or shortened from dunkirk (c.1600) "privateer," a private vessel licensed to attack enemy ships during wartime, from Dunkirk, French port from which they sailed. The oldest theory traces it to a Joe Dun, supposedly a London bailiff famous for catching defaulters. Related: Dunned; dunning. As a noun from 1620s.



Old English dunn "dingy brown, dark-colored," perhaps from Celtic (cf. Old Irish donn "dark;" Gaelic donn "brown, dark;" Welsh dwnn "brownish"), from PIE *donnos, *dusnos "dark."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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