[hawnt, hahnt; for 10 also hant]
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

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

Examples from the Web for haunts

Contemporary Examples of haunts

Historical Examples of haunts

  • He haunts me all day long, and all the night I dream of him!

  • He was going to search for them and find them in their haunts of sin and misery.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • It tells no tale, but there is a weird power about it that haunts one, and it was for that I bought it.

  • Knowing the haunts of hens, he went toward the currant bushes.

    David Dunne

    Belle Kanaris Maniates

  • His haunts necessarily kept him from meeting with those whom he had once known.

    Garrison's Finish

    W. B. M. Ferguson

British Dictionary definitions for haunts


  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 haunts

"place or places one frequents," early 14c.; see haunt (n.).



"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