[ dawnt, dahnt ]
/ dɔnt, dɑnt /

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. 2020


What does daunting mean?

If a task is daunting, it’s intimidating or overwhelming in a way that makes you not even want to try to do it.

Daunting is the progressive or continuous tense (the -ing form) of the verb daunt, meaning to intimidate or discourage. But daunting is commonly used as an adjective. It is almost always used to describe tasks, projects, or other things that need to be done.

Example: When I first started at this job, I was assigned the daunting task of reorganizing 10 years’ worth of files.

Where does daunting come from?

Daunting is the adjective form of the verb daunt. Daunt comes from the Old French danter, an alteration of donter, meaning “to conquer.” This word came from Latin domitāre, “to tame.” Daunt has been used in English since at least the 1300s, with daunting coming later.

When something is daunting, you dread doing it—it’s overwhelming and you don’t even know how to begin. 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. Some things are daunting not because they would take a long time to do but simply because they’re intimidating, like the daunting prospect of having to speak in front of a room full of strangers. Sometimes, things are described as daunting even when they’re 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 make projects less daunting by breaking them 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 daunting?

  • daunt (verb)
  • dauntingly (adverb)

What are some synonyms for daunting?

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



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

How is daunting used in real life?

Daunting 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 daunting!

Is daunting used correctly in the following sentence?

Going to a small gathering might seem like fun, but for someone with social anxiety it can be pretty daunting.

Example sentences from the Web for daunting

British Dictionary definitions for daunting (1 of 2)

/ (ˈdɔːntɪŋ) /


causing fear or discouragement; intimidating

Derived forms of daunting

dauntingly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for daunting (2 of 2)

/ (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