Origin of dream

1200–50; Middle English dreem, Old English drēam joy, mirth, gladness, cognate with Old Saxon drōm mirth, dream, Old Norse draumr, Old High German troum dream; modern sense first recorded in ME but presumably also current in Old English, as in Old Saxon
Related formsdream·ful, adjectivedream·ful·ly, adverbdream·ful·ness, noundream·ing·ly, adverbdream·like, adjectivere·dream, verb, re·dreamed or re·dreamt, re·dream·ing.un·dreamed, adjectiveun·dream·ing, adjectiveun·dream·like, adjective

Synonym study

1. Dream, nightmare, and vision refer to the kinds of mental images that form during sleep. Dream is the general term for any such succession of images. A nightmare is a dream that brings fear or anxiety: frightened by a nightmare. Vision refers to a series of images of unusual vividness, clarity, order, and significance, sometimes seen in a dream.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dreamed

Contemporary Examples of dreamed

Historical Examples of dreamed

  • We would never have dreamed of defying the registrar, would we, Emma?

  • The leper himself would never have dreamed of his touching him.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • This was the recompense of which she had dreamed through soul-tearing ages.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The night assistant, who dreamed sometimes of fire, stood nervously by.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • For was not this the adventure of which she had so often dreamed?

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for dreamed



  1. mental activity, usually in the form of an imagined series of events, occurring during certain phases of sleep
  2. (as modifier)a dream sequence
  3. (in combination)dreamland Related adjective: oneiric
  1. a sequence of imaginative thoughts indulged in while awake; daydream; fantasy
  2. (as modifier)a dream world
a person or thing seen or occurring in a dream
a cherished hope; ambition; aspiration
a vain hope
a person or thing that is as pleasant, or seemingly unreal, as a dream
go like a dream to move, develop, or work very well

verb dreams, dreaming, dreamed or dreamt (drɛmt)

(may take a clause as object) to undergo or experience (a dream or dreams)
(intr) to indulge in daydreams
(intr) to suffer delusions; be unrealisticyou're dreaming if you think you can win
(when intr, foll by of or about) to have an image (of) or fantasy (about) in or as if in a dream
(intr foll by of) to consider the possibility (of)I wouldn't dream of troubling you


too good to be true; idealdream kitchen
See also dream up
Derived Formsdreamful, adjectivedreamfully, adverbdreaming, noun, adjectivedreamingly, adverbdreamless, adjectivedreamlessly, adverbdreamlessness, noundreamlike, adjective

Word Origin for dream

Old English drēam song; related to Old High German troum, Old Norse draumr, Greek thrulos noise
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 dreamed



mid-13c. in the sense "sequence of sensations passing through a sleeping person's mind" (also as a verb), probably related to Old Norse draumr, Danish drøm, Swedish dröm, Old Saxon drom "merriment, noise," Old Frisian dram "dream," Dutch droom, Old High German troum, German traum "dream," perhaps from West Germanic *draugmas "deception, illusion, phantasm" (cf. Old Saxon bidriogan, Old High German triogan, German trügen "to deceive, delude," Old Norse draugr "ghost, apparition"). Possible cognates outside Germanic are Sanskrit druh- "seek to harm, injure," Avestan druz- "lie, deceive."

But Old English dream meant only "joy, mirth, noisy merriment," also "music." And much study has failed to prove that Old English dream is the root of the modern word for "sleeping vision," despite being identical in spelling. Either the meaning of the word changed dramatically or "vision" was an unrecorded secondary Old English meaning of dream, or there are two separate words here. OED offers this theory: "It seems as if the presence of dream 'joy, mirth, music,' had caused dream 'dream' to be avoided, at least in literature, and swefn, lit. 'sleep,' to be substituted" ....

Words for "sleeping vision" in Old English were mæting and swefn. Old English swefn originally meant "sleep," as did a great many Indo-European "dream" nouns, e.g. Lithuanian sapnas, Old Church Slavonic sunu, and the Romanic words (French songe, Spanish sueño, Italian sogno all from Latin somnium (from PIE *swep-no-; cognate with Greek hypnos; see somnolence; Old English swefn is from the same root). Dream in the sense of "ideal or aspiration" is from 1931, from earlier sense of "something of dream-like beauty or charm" (1888).



c.1200 in the current sense, from dream (n.). Old English verb dremen meant "rejoice; play music." Related: Dreamed; dreaming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

dreamed in Medicine




A series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with dreamed


In addition to the idioms beginning with dream

  • dream come true, a
  • dream up

also see:

  • pipe dream
  • sweet dreams
  • wouldn't dream of
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.