verb (used with object)
  1. to declare (something) to be bad, unfit, invalid, or illegal.
  2. to condemn as a failure: to damn a play.
  3. to bring condemnation upon; ruin.
  4. to doom to eternal punishment or condemn to hell.
  5. to swear at or curse, using the word “damn”: Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!
verb (used without object)
  1. to use the word “damn”; swear.
  1. (used as an expletive to express anger, annoyance, disgust, etc.)
  1. the utterance of “damn” in swearing or for emphasis.
  2. something of negligible value: not worth a damn.
  1. damned.
  1. damn well, Informal. damned(def 7).
  2. damn with faint praise, to praise so moderately as, in effect, to condemn: The critic damned the opera with faint praise when he termed the production adequate.
  3. give a damn, Informal. to care; be concerned; consider as important: You shouldn't give a damn about their opinions.Also give a darn.

Origin of damn

1250–1300; Middle English dam(p)nen < Old French dam(p)ner < Latin damnāre to condemn, derivative of damnum damage, fine, harm
Related formsdamn·er, nounpre·damn, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for damn

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for damn with faint praise


  1. slang an exclamation of annoyance (often in exclamatory phrases such as damn it! damn you! etc)
  2. informal an exclamation of surprise or pleasure (esp in the exclamatory phrase damn me!)
  1. (prenominal) slang deserving damnation; detestable
adverb, adjective (prenominal)
  1. slang (intensifier)damn fool; a damn good pianist
  1. damn all slang absolutely nothing
verb (mainly tr)
  1. to condemn as bad, worthless, etc
  2. to curse
  3. to condemn to eternal damnation
  4. (often passive) to doom to ruin; cause to failthe venture was damned from the start
  5. (also intr) to prove (someone) guiltydamning evidence
  6. to swear (at) using the word damn
  7. as near as damn it British informal as near as possible; very near
  8. damn with faint praise to praise so unenthusiastically that the effect is condemnation
  1. slang something of negligible value; jot (esp in the phrase not worth a damn)
  2. not give a damn informal to be unconcerned; not care

Word Origin for damn

C13: from Old French dampner, from Latin damnāre to injure, condemn, from damnum loss, injury, penalty
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

Word Origin and History for damn with faint praise



late 13c., "to condemn," from Old French damner "damn, condemn; convict, blame; injure," derivative of Latin damnare "to adjudge guilty; to doom; to condemn, blame, reject," from noun damnum "damage, hurt, harm; loss, injury; a fine, penalty," possibly from an ancient religious term from PIE *dap- "to apportion in exchange" [see Watkins]. The Latin word evolved a legal meaning of "pronounce judgment upon." Theological sense is first recorded early 14c.; the optative expletive use likely is as old.

Damn and its derivatives generally were avoided in print from 18c. to c.1930s (the famous line in the film version of "Gone with the Wind" was a breakthrough and required much effort by the studio). The noun is recorded from 1610s; to be not worth a damn is from 1817. The adjective is 1775, short for damned; Damn Yankee, characteristic Southern U.S. term for "Northerner," is attested from 1812. Related: Damning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

damn with faint praise in Culture

damn with faint praise

To criticize someone or something indirectly by giving a slight compliment: “When the critic remarked that Miller's book was ‘not as bad as some I've read,’ she was obviously damning it with faint praise.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with damn with faint praise

damn with faint praise

Compliment so feebly that it amounts to no compliment at all, or even implies condemnation. For example, The reviewer damned the singer with faint praise, admiring her dress but not mentioning her voice. This idea was already expressed in Roman times by Favorinus (c. a.d. 110) but the actual expression comes from Alexander Pope's Epistle to Doctor Arbuthnot (1733): “Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.”


In addition to the idioms beginning with damn

  • damned if I do, damned if I don't
  • damn well
  • damn with faint praise

also see:

  • do one's damnedest
  • give a damn
  • not worth a dime (tinker's damn)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.