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[duhn-juh n] /ˈdʌn dʒən/
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dungeon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A jangle as of dungeon chains clanked heavily from each fresh revolution of its progress.

    Rainy Week Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
  • Meanwhile months passed, and Calderon still languished in his dungeon.

    Calderon The Courtier Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • He was imprisoned on account of his enthusiastic and chivalrous loyalty; but no dungeon could subdue his buoyant spirit.

  • 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
  • His head snapped back against the dungeon wall and memory and desire and lust and life oozed out through his smashed skull.

    Quest of the Golden Ape Ivar Jorgensen
British Dictionary definitions for dungeon


a close prison cell, often underground
a variant of donjon
Word Origin
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
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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
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dungeon in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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dungeon in the Bible

different from the ordinary prison in being more severe as a place of punishment. Like the Roman inner prison (Acts 16:24), it consisted of a deep cell or cistern (Jer. 38:6). To be shut up in, a punishment common in Egypt (Gen. 39:20; 40:3; 41:10; 42:19). It is not mentioned, however, in the law of Moses as a mode of punishment. Under the later kings imprisonment was frequently used as a punishment (2 Chron. 16:10; Jer. 20:2; 32:2; 33:1; 37:15), and it was customary after the Exile (Matt. 11:2; Luke 3:20; Acts 5:18, 21; Matt. 18:30).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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