From Middle English dongeoun, dongoun (“keep, dungeon, abyss”), from Old French donjon (“castle keep”), from Medieval Latin dungiō, from either Vulgar Latin *dominiō (from Latin dominium (“lordship; ownership”)) or Frankish *dungijā (“prison, dungeon, underground cellar”). The current sense may have been influenced by Middle English dung, dunge, dong, donge (“abyss”) or its etymon Old English dung (“a subterranean chamber; a prison; dungeon”).
The Frankish word derives from Proto-Germanic *dungijǭ (“an enclosed space; a vault; bower; treasury”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰengʰ- (“to cover”), and is related to the aforementioned Old English dung, Old Saxon dung (“underground cellar”), Middle Dutch donc (“underground basement”), Old High German tung (“underground cellar; an underground chamber or apartment for overwintering”) (whence German Tunk (“manure or soil covered basement, underground weaving workshop”)), Old Norse dyngja (“a detached apartment, a lady's bower”); whence Icelandic dyngja (“chamber”)). See also dung, dingle.
The game term has been popularized by Dungeons & Dragons.
dungeon (plural dungeons)
- An underground prison or vault, typically built underneath a castle.
- (obsolete) The main tower of a motte or castle; a keep or donjon.
- (obsolete) A shrewd person.
- (games) An area inhabited by enemies, containing story objectives, treasure and bosses.
- (BDSM) A room dedicated to sadomasochistic sexual activity.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- (transitive) To imprison in a dungeon.
- 1830, William Cobbett, History of the Regency and Reign of King George the Fourth:
- Of every act of severity, of every bold violation of the constitution, of every bill for dungeoning and gagging the people, of every tax, of every loan, of all that set frugality at defiance, and that mocked at mercy, these men had been either the authors or the most strenuous supporters […]
- Alternative form of