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Origin uncertain.

  • The OED suggests an unattested Old English form *drūnian [1]. Harper 2001 points to Old English druncnian, "probably influenced" by Old Norse drukkna (cf. Danish drukne) [2]. Funk & Wagnall's has Middle English drounen, drūnen, 'of uncertain origin'. It has been theorised (see e.g. ODS) [3] that it may represent a direct loan of Old Norse drukkna, but this is described by the OED as being "on phonetic and other grounds [...] highly improbable" [1].



drown ‎(third-person singular simple present drowns, present participle drowning, simple past and past participle drowned)

  1. (intransitive) To be suffocated in water or other fluid; to perish by such suffocation.
  2. (transitive) To deprive of life by immersion in water or other liquid.
  3. (transitive) To overwhelm in water; to submerge; to inundate.
  4. (transitive) To overpower; to overcome; to extinguish; — said especially of sound; usually in the form "to drown out".
    • Sir J. Davies
      most men being in sensual pleasures drowned
    • Addison
      My private voice is drowned amid the senate.
  5. (transitive) To lose, make hard to find or unnoticeable in an abundant mass.
    The CIA gathers so much information that the actual answers it should seek are often drowned in the incessant flood of reports, recordings, satellite images etc.

Derived terms[edit]



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  1. 1.0 1.1 OED: drown, v. (subscription required)
  2. ^ drown” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).
  3. ^ drukne” in Ordbog over det danske Sprog: oldn. drukkna (eng. drown er laant fra nord.) (in English: Old Norse drukkna (the English drown is a loanword from Old Norse))