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[hawnt, hahnt; for 10 also hant] /hɔnt, hɑnt; for 10 also hænt/
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 forms
haunter, noun
3. frequent. 5. obsess, beset, vex, plague. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for haunt
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My memory will haunt it, many nights, in time to come; but nothing worse, I will engage.

    Pictures from Italy Charles Dickens
  • Let him show me some attention; let him haunt my house awhile.

    The God of Love Justin Huntly McCarthy
  • From the shadow of a tree there moved one of those brazen and piteous she-ghosts that haunt the locality.

    Our Square and the People in It Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • They haunt in timber, and usually by the banks of streams or other waters.

    The Plant Hunters Mayne Reid
  • If ever you haunt me again,” muttered Vanslyperken, “may I be hanged.

    Snarley-yow Frederick Marryat
British Dictionary definitions for haunt


to visit (a person or place) in the form of a ghost
(transitive) 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 pl) a place visited frequently: an old haunt of hers
a place to which animals habitually resort for food, drink, shelter, etc
Derived Forms
haunter, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for haunt

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.


"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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