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From daunt +‎ -ing.[1]



daunting (comparative more daunting, superlative most daunting)

  1. Discouraging; inspiring fear.
    Synonyms: disconcerting, dismaying, formidable, frightening, unnerving, unsettling
    Antonym: undaunting
    • a. 1530, George Gascoigne, “The Frute of Reconciliation, Written vppon a Reconciliation betwene Two Freendes”, in The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper; [] In Twenty-one Volumes, volume II, London: Printed for J[oseph] Johnson [et al.], published 1810, →OCLC, page 528, column 2:
      Deathes daunting dart where so his buffet lights, / Shall shape no change within my friendly corse: / But dead or liue, in heauen, in earth, in hell, / I wilbe thine where so my carkase dwell.
    • c. 1590, probably Anthony Munday or Robert Wilson, A Pleasant Comedie of Faire Em, the Millers Daughter of Manchester: With the Loue of William the Conqueror. [] (Second Quarto)‎[1], London: Printed for Iohn Wright, [], published 1631, →OCLC:
      As for his menacing and daunting threats / I nill regard him nor his Daniſh power: / For if he come to fetch her forth my Realme, / I will prouide him ſuch a banquet here.
    • 1795 February 28 (first performance), Richard Cumberland, “The Wheel of Fortune; a Comedy, in Five Acts; []”, in The British Theatre; or, A Collection of Plays, which are Acted at the Theatres Royal, Drury-Lane, Covent-Garden, and Haymarket. [] In Twenty-five Volumes, volume XVIII, London: Printed [by Savage and Easingwood] for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, [], published 1808, →OCLC, act II, scene i, page 24:
      Temp[est]. [...] Emily is for ever giggling. / Sir D[avid] D[aw]. She is not singular in that: go where I will, they giggle; that is rather daunting, you must think.
    • 1819, Thomas Hope, chapter VII, in Anastasius: Or, Memoirs of a Greek; [] In Three Volumes, volume III, London: John Murray, [], →OCLC, page 187:
      Abd-ool-Azeez gave the stranger a daunting look, but coolly proceeded.
    • 1906 January, Allen Upward, “The Ghost Hunters”, in The Royal Magazine, volume XV, number 87, London: C[yril] Arthur Pearson Ltd, [], →OCLC, chapter II (The Tapping on the Wainscot), page 266, column 2:
      Instead of a single tap, [...] it became a hurried knocking, moving round the room behind the wainscot as if in search of something. I could have sworn that Someone or Something was feeling its way along. The daunting sounds arrived at the middle of the wall opposite the foot of the great bed, and became stationary.
    • 1923 December, John F. W. Meagher, “Sexology. Sex in American Literature.”, in The Urologic and Cutaneous Review, volume 27, number 12, St. Louis, Mo.: Urologic and Cutaneous Press, →OCLC, page 777, column 1:
      Curiously, though we are exceedingly frank talkers in the United States on what may be called the static aspects of sex life—physiology hygiene and economics, all its experiential love is hedged about with conventional inhibitions, the most daunting of which is the convention that bars reforming intimacies between young men and older women.
  2. Intimidatingly impressive; awe-inspiring, overwhelming.
    Synonym: intimidating
    Antonym: undaunting
    • 1638, Ier[emiah] Burroughes [i.e., Jeremiah Burroughs], “Wherein the Excellency of This Gracious Spirit Appeares”, in The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit. Delivered in a Treatise upon the 14. of Numbers, Verse 24, London: Printed by M[iles] F[lesher] for R[obert] Davvlman, and L[uke] Fawne, [], →OCLC, pages 103–104:
      [W]iſdome, much more all the excellencies of this Spirit) makes a mans face to ſhine; as the light of a Lanterne puts a luſtre upon the Lanterne, ſo the brightneſſe of theſe ſpirits puts a luſtre upon the men in whom they are. Men of ſuch ſpirts[sic – meaning ſpirits] as theſe are, have a daunting preſence in the eyes of thoſe who behold them.
    • 1915, Edgar Jepson, “The Reluctant Duke”, in Happy Pollyooly: The Rich Little Poor Girl, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC, page 135:
      She reached it soon after half-past two. She found its gloomy nineteenth-century façade, black with the smuts of ninety years, a little daunting, and mounted its broad steps in some trepidation. But she rang the bell hard and knocked firmly.
  3. Appearing to be difficult; challenging.
    Synonyms: formidable, intimidating
    Antonym: undaunting
    It was a daunting task, but it was accomplished with some forward planning.
    • 1829, [Timothy Flint], chapter III, in George Mason, the Young Backwoodsman; or ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship.’ A Story of the Mississippi, Boston, Mass.: Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins, →OCLC, page 41:
      A trip of sixteen miles, through dark forests, in which they would not pass a single house, was an exploit sufficiently daunting for two such young and inexperienced boys. Love triumphs over fear and death; and these boys so dearly loved their father, that nothing was formidable to them, which they could do for him.
    • 1944 April, Donald Attwater, “In the Beginning was the Word: A Plea for English Words”, in The Dublin Review, volume 214, number 429, London: Burns Oates and Washbourne, →OCLC, page 129:
      But there are tens of thousands more in England, young and old, who read even their own tongue only haltingly: to them Latin is as daunting as Magyar is to the rest of us.
    • 1993 January–February, Daniel J[oseph] Boorstin (interviewee), Lynne V[incent] Cheney (interviewer), “A Conversation with Daniel J. Boorstin”, in Mary Lou Beatty, editor, Humanities, volume 14, number 1, Washington, D.C.: National Endowment for the Humanities, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 6:
      In some ways it's more daunting to write a nonfiction work than fiction because if you write a fictional work, you can keep the reader in suspense as to whether the central figure is a hero or a villain. But if you're writing nonfiction, everyone knows how it turned out, so you have a problem of creating drama and suspense.
    • 2015, Michael Shermer, “A Moral Science of Animal Rights”, in The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, New York, N.Y.: Henry Holt and Company, →ISBN, part II (The Moral Arc Applied), page 282:
      [B]umping up the percentage of the population committed to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle from the low single digits into the high double digits is going to be a daunting task. [...] When more than 95 percent of the population eats meat, that's a daunting difference.

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daunting (plural dauntings)

  1. gerund of daunt.
    1. The act of discouraging or intimidating; discouragement, intimidation.
      • 1844, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “The Lost Bower”, in Poems. [], volume II, London: Edward Moxon, [], →OCLC, page 114:
        Face to face with the true mountains, / I stood silently and still; / Drawing strength for fancy's dauntings, / From the air about the hill, / And from Nature's open mercies, and most debonaire goodwill.
      • 1849 January, O. T. Dobbin, “John Wesley, and the Principles Developed in His Career”, in John Kitto, editor, The Journal of Sacred Literature, volume III, number V, London: C. Cox, []; Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd; Dublin: J. Robertson, [], →OCLC, page 38:
        But stigmatise it as we please there never was a great man without a strong will, and an infusion of self-reliance sufficient to raise him above the dauntings of opposition and reliance on props.
    2. The act of defeating, overcoming, or overwhelming.
      Synonyms: taming, vanquishing
      • 1613, Thomas Dekker, Alexander B[alloch] Grosart, compiler and editor, “A Strange Horse-race”, in The Non-dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker. In Five Volumes. [] (The Huth Library), volume III, [London]: Printed [by Hazell, Watson, & Viney] for private circulation only, published 1885, →OCLC, pages 339–340:
        Then came in two by two, other Troopes, whoſe onſets, and ouer-throwes, honours, and diſgraces, darings, and dauntings, merit an ample Chronicle, rather than an Abſtract; [...]



  1. present participle and gerund of daunt


  1. ^ daunting, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1894; “daunting, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022; “daunting, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1894.