Definition of dungeon in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdʌn(d)ʒ(ə)n/


1A strong underground prison cell, especially in a castle.
Example sentences
  • For the past seventeen years he has been kept prisoner in the castle dungeons.
  • What goes on inside the CIA facilities, closer to medieval dungeons than modern prisons, can only be guessed at.
  • She miraculously encountered the prison dungeon and entered to get some answers.
underground cell, underground prison, oubliette;
cell, prison, jail, lock-up, black hole
archaic hole, thieves' hole, bocardo
2 archaic term for donjon.


[with object] literary
Imprison (someone) in a dungeon.


Middle English (also with the sense 'castle keep'): from Old French (perhaps originally with the sense 'lord's tower' or 'mistress tower'), based on Latin dominus 'lord, master'. Compare with donjon.

  • The word dungeon had two main senses when it was first used in the 14th century: ‘the great tower or keep of a castle’ and ‘an underground prison cell’. The first is now usually spelled donjon and regarded as a separate word. The core meaning was ‘lord's tower’, and the word goes back to Latin dominus ‘lord, master’, through which it is related to dame and danger.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dun|geon

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