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[duhn] /dʌn/
verb (used with object), dunned, dunning.
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 dun1
1620-30; origin obscure Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dunned
Historical Examples
  • He dunned them openly on the street so that they made a wide detour in order to avoid going past his store.

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

    The Daughter of a Magnate Frank H. Spearman
  • He had never borrowed from a friend or been dunned by an importunate tradesman.

    The Valiants of Virginia Hallie Erminie Rives
  • I can stand to be dunned once in awhile, but I don't like to be frowned at.

    Old Ebenezer Opie Read
  • Ivan, with his new millions—why had he not offered something, instead of letting himself be dunned?

    The Genius Margaret Horton Potter
  • 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
  • There are some small bills in the village, too, with which your happy husband must not be dunned, sweet love.

    The Vicar of Wrexhill Mrs [Frances] Trollope
  • And Wyeth was one of these creatures who could not stand to be dunned.

    The Forged Note Oscar Micheaux
British Dictionary definitions for dunned


verb duns, dunning, dunned
(transitive) 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
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, dunnest
of a dun colour
dark and gloomy
Word Origin
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
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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
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