[ don; Spanish, Italian dawn ]
/ dɒn; Spanish, Italian dɔn /
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(initial capital letter) Mr.; Sir: a Spanish title prefixed to a man's given name.
(in Spanish-speaking countries) a lord or gentleman.
(initial capital letter) an Italian title of address, especially for a priest.
a person of great importance.
(in the English universities) a head, fellow, or tutor of a college.
(in the Mafia) a head of a family or syndicate.
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Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of don

First recorded in 1515–25; from Spanish, Italian, from Latin dominus “master, lord”

Other definitions for don (2 of 5)

[ don ]
/ dɒn /

verb (used with object), donned, don·ning.
to put on or dress in: to don one's clothes.

Origin of don

First recorded in 1560–70; contraction of do1 + on; cf. doff

Other definitions for don (3 of 5)

[ dohn ]
/ doʊn /

(in prescriptions) donec.

Origin of don

By shortening of Latin donec

Other definitions for don (4 of 5)

[ don; for 1 also Russian dawn ]
/ dɒn; for 1 also Russian dɔn /

a river flowing generally S from Tula in the Russian Federation in Europe, to the Sea of Azov. About 1,200 miles (1,930 km) long.
a river in NE Scotland, flowing E from Aberdeen county to the North Sea. 62 miles (100 km) long.
a river in central England, flowing NE from S Yorkshire to the Humber estuary. 60 miles (97 km) long.
a male given name, form of Donald.

Other definitions for don (5 of 5)

[ dawn ]
/ dɔn /

noun Welsh Mythology.
a goddess, the mother of Gwydion and Arianrod: corresponds to the Irish Danu.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of don?

Don means to put on or dress in clothing. The word Don is a title for men in Spanish and don is a term for the head of a mafia family. Don has a few other senses as a noun.

When used as a verb, don means to put on clothing. When you don a fancy hat, you place it on your head. Sometimes don is used to indicate that you’re putting on fancy clothes.

  • Real-life examples: People don formal clothes to attend weddings. The media is often obsessed with the designer clothing that celebrities have donned for an awards show. It is a good idea to don a helmet when riding a bike.
  • Used in a sentence: I don my long winter coat whenever it snows.

In Spanish, the title Don is used like Mr. in English to show respect to a man. Don is used before a man’s first name.

  • Real-life example: The fictional Don Juan was a legendary womanizer. The fictional Don Quixote is remembered for battling with windmills.
  • Used in a sentence: While in Spain, I met with my good friends Don Emilio and Don Diego.

The word don is also used to refer to the head of a mafia family or syndicate. This sense of don is also sometimes used as a title.

  • Real-life examples: Actor Marlon Brando played Vito Corleone, the don of the fictional Corleone family, in the film The Godfather. Carlo Gambino was the don of New York City’s Gambino crime family.
  • Used in a sentence: The police arrested several low-ranking members of the crime family but could never get evidence against the don.

Where does don come from?

The first records of the verb don come from around 1560. It is a contraction of the common verb do and the preposition on. The first records of the noun form of don come from around 1515. It ultimately comes from the Latin dominus, meaning “God” or “the Lord.”

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What are some other forms related to don?

  • donned (past tense verb)

What are some synonyms for don?

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

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

How is don used in real life?

Don is most often used to mean to put or to wear clothing.

Try using don!

Is don used correctly in the following sentence?

After coming in from the rain, I donned my jacket and hung it in the closet.

How to use don in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for don (1 of 4)

/ (dɒn) /

verb dons, donning or donned
(tr) to put on (clothing)

Word Origin for don

C14: from do 1 + on; compare doff

British Dictionary definitions for don (2 of 4)

/ (dɒn) /

British a member of the teaching staff at a university or college, esp at Oxford or Cambridge
the head of a student dormitory at certain Canadian universities and colleges
a Spanish gentleman or nobleman
(in the Mafia) the head of a family

Word Origin for don

C17: ultimately from Latin dominus lord

British Dictionary definitions for don (3 of 4)

/ (dɒn, Spanish don) /

a Spanish title equivalent to Mr : placed before a name to indicate respect

Word Origin for Don

C16: via Spanish, from Latin dominus lord; see don ²

British Dictionary definitions for don (4 of 4)

/ (dɒn) /

a river rising in W Russia, southeast of Tula and flowing generally south, to the Sea of Azov: linked by canal to the River Volga. Length: 1870 km (1162 miles)
a river in NE Scotland, rising in the Cairngorm Mountains and flowing east to the North Sea. Length: 100 km (62 miles)
a river in N central England, rising in S Yorkshire and flowing northeast to the Humber. Length: about 96 km (60 miles)
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