verb (used with object), dunned, dun·ning.

to make repeated and insistent demands upon, especially for the payment of a debt.


a person, especially a creditor, who duns another.
a demand for payment, especially a written one.

Origin of dun

First recorded in 1620–30; origin obscure
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dunned

Historical Examples of dunned

  • Twenty-five dollars, and, by heavens, he dunned me for it just after we started.

    The Daughter of a Magnate

    Frank H. Spearman

  • I can stand to be dunned once in awhile, but I don't like to be frowned at.

    Old Ebenezer

    Opie Read

  • Men are not dunned so rigorously when they have just fallen into their fortunes.

    Ralph the Heir

    Anthony Trollope

  • Bennoch has been dunned for his gas-bill at Blackheath (only a pound or two) and has paid it.

    Hawthorne and His Circle

    Julian Hawthorne

  • The profanity fell upon Nevins from both the duns and the dunned.

    The Imitator

    Percival Pollard

British Dictionary definitions for dunned



verb duns, dunning or dunned

(tr) to press or importune (a debtor) for the payment of a debt


a person, esp a hired agent, who importunes another for the payment of a debt
a demand for payment, esp one in writing

Word Origin for dun

C17: of unknown origin




a brownish-grey colour
a horse of this colour
  1. an immature adult mayfly (the subimago), esp one of the genus Ephemera
  2. an artificial fly imitating this or a similar fly

adjective dunner or dunnest

of a dun colour
dark and gloomy

Word Origin for dun

Old English dunn; related to Old Norse dunna wild duck, Middle Irish doun dark; see dusk
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 dunned



"to insist on payment of debt," 1620s, perhaps related to dunnen "to sound, resound, make a din" (c.1200, dialectal variant of din), or shortened from dunkirk (c.1600) "privateer," a private vessel licensed to attack enemy ships during wartime, from Dunkirk, French port from which they sailed. The oldest theory traces it to a Joe Dun, supposedly a London bailiff famous for catching defaulters. Related: Dunned; dunning. As a noun from 1620s.



Old English dunn "dingy brown, dark-colored," perhaps from Celtic (cf. Old Irish donn "dark;" Gaelic donn "brown, dark;" Welsh dwnn "brownish"), from PIE *donnos, *dusnos "dark."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper