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  1. the lair or shelter of a wild animal, especially a predatory mammal.
  2. a room, often secluded, in a house or apartment, designed to provide a quiet, comfortable, and informal atmosphere for conversation, reading, writing, etc.
  3. a cave used as a place of shelter or concealment.
  4. a squalid or vile abode or place: dens of misery.
  5. one of the units of a cub scout pack, analogous to a patrol in the Boy Scouts.
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verb (used with object), denned, den·ning.
  1. to drive or pursue (an animal) into its den.
  2. to kill (an animal) inside its den.
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verb (used without object), denned, den·ning.
  1. to live in or as if in a den.
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Origin of den

before 1000; Middle English; Old English denn; compare early Dutch denne floor, cave, den, German Tenne floor


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

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British Dictionary definitions for den


  1. the habitat or retreat of a lion or similar wild animal; lair
  2. a small or secluded room in a home, often used for carrying on a hobby
  3. a squalid or wretched room or retreat
  4. a site or haunta den of vice
  5. Scot a small wooded valley; dingle
  6. Scot and Northern English dialect a place of sanctuary in certain catching games; home or base
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verb dens, denning or denned
  1. (intr) to live in or as if in a den
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Word Origin

Old English denn; related to Old High German tenni threshing floor, early Dutch denne low ground, den, cave


abbreviation for
  1. Denmark
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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 den


Old English denn "wild animal's lair," from Proto-Germanic *danjan (cf. Middle Low German denne "lowland, wooded vale, den," Old English denu "valley," Old Frisian dene "down," Old High German tenni, German tenne "threshing floor," from PIE *dan- "low ground"). Sense of "small room" is 1771, originally colloquial.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper