[ dawnt, dahnt ]
/ dɔnt, dɑnt /
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See synonyms for: daunt / daunted / daunting on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to overcome with fear; intimidate: to daunt one's adversaries.
to lessen the courage of; dishearten: Don't be daunted by the amount of work still to be done.
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Origin of daunt

1250–1300; Middle English da(u)nten<Anglo-French da(u)nter,Old French danter, alteration of donter (probably by influence of dangier power, authority; see danger) <Latin domitāre to tame, derivative of domitus, past participle of domāre to tame


daunt·ing·ly, adverbdaunt·ing·ness, nounun·daunt·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does daunt mean?

Daunt means to intimidate.

This intimidation can be a pretty serious fear, like that of a warrior who daunts enemies in battle. More commonly, though, daunt means to intimidate in a way that’s disheartening, like a task that daunts you because it seems impossible.

People who are intimidated in such a way can be described with the adjective daunted. An even more commonly used adjective is daunting, which comes from the continuous tense (the -ing form) of daunt. If a task is daunting, it’s intimidating or overwhelming in a way that makes you not even want to try to do it.

Example: When I first started at this job, I was really daunted by my first assignment, which was reorganizing 10 years’ worth of files.

Where does daunt come from?

The first records of the word daunt come from around 1300. It comes from the Old French danter, an alteration of donter, meaning “to conquer.” This word came from Latin domitāre, “to tame.”

When you’re daunted by a person, it’s usually more than just intimidation—they strike fear into you. But the word is much more commonly used in reference to intimidating and overwhelming tasks for experiences.

When you’re daunted by a task, you dread doing it—it’s overwhelming and you don’t even know how to begin. The adjective daunting is usually used to describe overwhelming tasks, like reading a 1,000-page book, or writing a 50-page paper, or having to read a 1,000-page book and then write a 50-page paper on it. Sometimes, people can be daunted by things not because they would take a long time to do but simply because they’re intimidating, like speaking in front of a room full of strangers. You can even be daunted by things that are not all that important, like the daunting task of cleaning out the garage for the first time in 15 years, or the daunting commitment of streaming a 10-season TV show.

Some people try to overcome being daunted by a project by breaking it down into smaller tasks, making a to-do list, and crossing things off one at a time. The best way to make an assignment seem less daunting and more doable? Starting it.

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What are some other forms related to daunt?

  • daunting (continuous tense verb, adjective)
  • dauntingly (adverb)
  • dauntingness (noun)
  • undaunting (adjective)

What are some synonyms for daunt?

What are some words that share a root or word element with daunt



What are some words that often get used in discussing daunt?

How is daunt used in real life?

Daunt is often used with words like task and prospect. It can refer to intimidating tasks that are serious or not-so-serious, as long as they’re overwhelming in some way.



Try using daunt!

Is daunt used correctly in the following sentence?

Going to a small gathering might seem like fun, but someone with social anxiety can be really daunted by it.

How to use daunt in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for daunt

/ (dɔːnt) /

verb (tr; often passive)
to intimidate
to dishearten

Derived forms of daunt

daunter, noun

Word Origin for daunt

C13: from Old French danter, changed from donter to conquer, from Latin domitāre to tame
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