[hawn-tid, hahn-]


inhabited or frequented by ghosts: a haunted castle.
preoccupied, as with an emotion, memory, or idea; obsessed: His haunted imagination gave him no peace.
disturbed; distressed; worried: Haunted by doubt he again turned to law books on the subject.

Origin of haunted

Middle English word dating back to 1275–1325; see origin at haunt, -ed2
Related formsun·haunt·ed, adjective


[hawnt, hahnt; for 10 also hant]

verb (used with object)

to visit habitually or appear to frequently as a spirit or ghost: to haunt a house; to haunt a person.
to recur persistently to the consciousness of; remain with: Memories of love haunted him.
to visit frequently; go to often: He haunted the galleries and bars that the artists went to.
to frequent the company of; be often with: He haunted famous men, hoping to gain celebrity for himself.
to disturb or distress; cause to have anxiety; trouble; worry: His youthful escapades came back to haunt him.

verb (used without object)

to reappear continually as a spirit or ghost.
to visit habitually or regularly.
to remain persistently; loiter; stay; linger.


Often haunts. a place frequently visited: to return to one's old haunts.
Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. and North England. a ghost.

Origin of haunt

1200–50; Middle English haunten < Old French hanter to frequent, probably < Old Norse heimta to lead home, derivative of heim homewards; see home
Related formshaunt·er, noun

Synonyms for haunt

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for haunted


Examples from the Web for haunted

Contemporary Examples of haunted

Historical Examples of haunted

  • I am haunted by the thought that my car may break down when I have a load of wounded.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • The dread of French domination seems to have haunted him like a nightmare.

    Biographical Sketches

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • It haunted him every moment, and added to the weight of sorrow which seemed crushing him.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • Her very brain and blood were haunted with the presence of Corney's father.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • The phrase has haunted me since I heard it, less than an hour ago.

British Dictionary definitions for haunted



frequented or visited by ghosts
(postpositive) obsessed or worried



to visit (a person or place) in the form of a ghost
(tr) to intrude upon or recur to (the memory, thoughts, etc)he was haunted by the fear of insanity
to visit (a place) frequently
to associate with (someone) frequently


(often plural) a place visited frequentlyan old haunt of hers
a place to which animals habitually resort for food, drink, shelter, etc
Derived Formshaunter, noun

Word Origin for haunt

C13: from Old French hanter, of Germanic origin; compare Old Norse heimta to bring home, Old English hāmettan to give a home to; see home
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 haunted



"place frequently visited," c.1300, also in Middle English, "habit, custom" (early 14c.), from haunt (v.). The meaning "spirit that haunts a place, ghost" is first recorded 1843, originally in stereotypical U.S. black speech.



early 13c., "to practice habitually, busy oneself with, take part in," from Old French hanter "to frequent, resort to, be familiar with" (12c.), probably from Old Norse heimta "bring home," from Proto-Germanic *haimat-janan, from *haimaz- (see home). Meaning "to frequent (a place)" is c.1300 in English. Use in reference to a spirit returning to the house where it had lived perhaps was in Proto-Germanic, but it was reinforced by Shakespeare's plays, and it is first recorded 1590 in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Related: Haunted; haunting. Middle English hauntingly meant "frequently;" sense of "so as to haunt one's thoughts or memory" is from 1859.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper