Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search


Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English dern, derne, from Old English dyrne, dierne(secret), from Proto-Germanic *darniją(secret), from Proto-Indo-European *dher(ǝ)-, *dhrē-(to hold, hold tight, support). See below.


dern (plural derns)

  1. (now chiefly dialectal) A secret; secrecy.
  2. (now chiefly dialectal) A secret place; hiding.
  3. (now chiefly dialectal) An obscure language.
  4. (now chiefly dialectal) Darkness; obscurity.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English dern, derne, from Old English dyrne, dierne(hidden, secret, retired, obscure, remote, eluding detection, concealed, deceitful, evil, magical), from Proto-Germanic *darnijaz(hidden, masked), from Proto-Indo-European *dher(ǝ)-, *dhrē-(to hold, hold tight, support). Cognate with Old Frisian dern, dren(hidden, secret), Old Saxon derni(hidden, secret), Old High German tarni(hidden).


dern (comparative more dern, superlative most dern)

  1. (now chiefly dialectal) Hidden; secret; private.
    • Dr. H. More, Immortal, of the Soul
      Now with their backs to the den's mouth they sit, / Yet shoulder not all light from the dern pit.
    • J. R. Drake, Culprit Fay
      Through dreary beds of tangled fern, / Through groves of nightshade dark and dern.

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English dernen, dærnen, from Old English dyrnan, diernan(to keep secret, conceal, hide, restrain, repress, hide oneself), from Proto-Germanic *darnijaną(to conceal), from Proto-Indo-European *dher(ǝ)-, *dhrē-(to hold, hold tight, support). Cognate with Old Saxon dernian(to conceal), German tarnen(to camougflage, disguise). See also darn, tarnish.


dern (third-person singular simple present derns, present participle derning, simple past and past participle derned)

  1. (transitive, now chiefly dialectal) To hide; secrete, as in a hole.
    • H. Miller
      He at length escaped them by derning himself in a fox-earth.
  2. (intransitive, now chiefly dialectal) To hide oneself; skulk.
    • T. Hudson
      But look how soon they heard of Holoferne / Their courage quail'd, and they began to derne.

Etymology 4[edit]



dern (plural derns)

  1. (Britain, dialect) A gatepost or doorpost.
    • Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho!, Ch. XIV, How Salvation Yeo Slew the King of the Gubbings
      So I just put my eye between the wall and the dern of the gate, and I saw him come up to the back door []

Old Irish[edit]



  1. first-person singular present subjunctive prototonic ro-form of do·gní