[duhn-juh n]


a strong, dark prison or cell, usually underground, as in a medieval castle.
the keep or stronghold of a castle; donjon.

Origin of dungeon

1250–1300; Middle English dungeo(u)n, dongeoun, dungun < Middle French donjon < Vulgar Latin *domniōn- (stem of *domniō) keep, mastery, syncopated variant of *dominiōn- dominion
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for dungeon

cell, vault, oubliette

Examples from the Web for dungeon

Contemporary Examples of dungeon

Historical Examples of dungeon

  • Meanwhile months passed, and Calderon still languished in his dungeon.

    Calderon The Courtier

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • The other man had his back towards the dungeon, and Barnaby could only see his form.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • He said he thought it best to have him thrust into a dungeon.

    The Story of Don Quixote

    Arvid Paulson, Clayton Edwards, and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

  • The dungeon, the chain, the lash, the wooden jellab—what else was left to him?

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • I felt like a prisoner who was about to escape from a dungeon.

British Dictionary definitions for dungeon



a close prison cell, often underground
a variant of donjon

Word Origin for dungeon

C14: from Old French donjon; related to Latin dominus master
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 dungeon

c.1300, "great tower of a castle," from Old French donjon "great tower of a castle" (12c.), from Gallo-Romance *dominionem, from Late Latin dominium, from Latin dominus "master" (of the castle; see domain). Sense of "castle keep" led to "strong (underground) cell" in English early 14c. The original sense went with the variant donjon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper