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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
1620-30; origin obscure Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dunning
Historical Examples
  • Say, dunning, there's twenty-five pesoes for you, if you fix him good and proper.

    The Long Dim Trail Forrestine C. Hooker
  • I heard Mr dunning, as he passed me, apostrophising the night as dark as Erebus.

    Peter the Whaler W.H.G. Kingston
  • An intelligent Note, however, vindicates the reputation of dunning.

  • If you will have it so, Mr. dunning, you may stand watch to-night and I will go to the house.

    Whispering Smith Frank H. Spearman
  • The garrison of 8000 men was under the immediate command of Colonel dunning, of the 5th Ohio.

  • You were heard to say as much to-night at the dunning ranch.

    Whispering Smith Frank H. Spearman
  • Why are we to starve until this Mr. dunning has come and gone?

    The Big Drum Arthur Pinero
  • That evening Captain dunning supped with Ailie and his sisters in low spirits.

    The Red Eric R.M. Ballantyne
  • In my opinion, it would be a thousand pities not to see Mr. dunning to-night, and have done with him.

    The Big Drum Arthur Pinero
  • In five minutes I can have dunning here with the whole disreputable story.

    The Big Drum Arthur Pinero
British Dictionary definitions for dunning


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 dunning



"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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