[hawnt, hahnt; for 10 also hant]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to visit habitually or appear to frequently as a spirit or ghost: to haunt a house; to haunt a person.
  2. to recur persistently to the consciousness of; remain with: Memories of love haunted him.
  3. to visit frequently; go to often: He haunted the galleries and bars that the artists went to.
  4. to frequent the company of; be often with: He haunted famous men, hoping to gain celebrity for himself.
  5. to disturb or distress; cause to have anxiety; trouble; worry: His youthful escapades came back to haunt him.
verb (used without object)
  1. to reappear continually as a spirit or ghost.
  2. to visit habitually or regularly.
  3. to remain persistently; loiter; stay; linger.
  1. Often haunts. a place frequently visited: to return to one's old haunts.
  2. 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

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for haunter

Historical Examples of haunter

  • Our little bird may, indeed, be called a "haunter of the sky."

    Our Bird Comrades

    Leander S. (Leander Sylvester) Keyser

  • He is not a climber and a haunter of the woods, like his congener.

    The Desert World

    Arthur Mangin

  • How could you—you—after such a life as yours, become a haunter of low company?

  • My communings are not with any haunter of the river, but with the living soul of the river itself.

    A Rambler's lease

    Bradford Torrey

  • The following is an extreme example, as the haunter proceeded to arson.

British Dictionary definitions for haunter


  1. to visit (a person or place) in the form of a ghost
  2. (tr) to intrude upon or recur to (the memory, thoughts, etc)he was haunted by the fear of insanity
  3. to visit (a place) frequently
  4. to associate with (someone) frequently
  1. (often plural) a place visited frequentlyan old haunt of hers
  2. 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 haunter



"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