• synonyms


or dowse

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verb (used with object), doused, dous·ing.
  1. to plunge into water or the like; drench: She doused the clothes in soapy water.
  2. to splash or throw water or other liquid on: The children doused each other with the hose.
  3. to extinguish: She quickly doused the candle's flame with her fingertips.
  4. Informal. to remove; doff.
  5. Nautical.
    1. to lower or take in (a sail, mast, or the like) suddenly.
    2. to slacken (a line) suddenly.
    3. to stow quickly.
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verb (used without object), doused, dous·ing.
  1. to plunge or be plunged into a liquid.
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  1. British Dialect. a stroke or blow.
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Origin of douse

First recorded in 1590–1600; origin uncertain
Can be confuseddouse dowse
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

deluge, soak, quench, drown, saturate, smother, splash, submerge, wet, dunk, snuff, souse, plunge, slop, immerse, splatter, sop, spatter, duck, slosh

Examples from the Web for douse

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for douse



  1. to plunge or be plunged into water or some other liquid; duck
  2. (tr) to drench with water, esp in order to wash or clean
  3. (tr) to put out (a light, candle, etc)
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  1. an immersion
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Derived Formsdouser or dowser, noun

Word Origin

C16: perhaps related to obsolete douse to strike, of obscure origin


verb (tr)
  1. nautical to lower (sail) quickly
  2. archaic to strike or beat
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  1. archaic a blow
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Word Origin

C16: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to douse 1
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 douse


1550s, "to strike, punch," which is perhaps from Middle Dutch dossen "beat forcefully" or a similar Low German word.

Meaning "to strike a sail in haste" is recorded from 1620s; that of "to extinguish (a light)" is from 1785; perhaps influenced by dout (1520s), an obsolete contraction of do out (cf. doff, don). OED regards the meaning "to plunge into water, to throw water over" (c.1600) as a separate word, of unknown origin, though admitting there may be a connection of some sort. Related: Doused; dousing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper