AskDefine | Define dun

Dictionary Definition

dun adj : of a dull grayish brown to brownish gray color; "the dun and dreary prairie"


1 horse of a dull brownish gray color
2 a color varying around light grayish brown; "she wore a dun raincoat" [syn: grayish brown, greyish brown, fawn]


1 treat cruelly; "The children tormented the stuttering teacher" [syn: torment, rag, bedevil, crucify, frustrate]
2 persistently ask for overdue payment; "The grocer dunned his customers every day by telephone"
3 cure by salting; "dun codfish"
4 make a dun color [also: dunning, dunned, dunnest, dunner]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1



  1. In the context of "colour|uncountable": a brownish grey colour.
    dun colour:   


  1. of a brownish grey colour.

Derived terms

See also

Etymology 2


  1. A collector of debts.
    "Melancholy duns came looking for him at all hours", G. Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, Ch. 18
A collector of debts


  1. To ask or beset a debtor for payment.
    No wonder she is in a bad mood, since she did nothing but dun customers all day.
To ask for payment

Etymology 3


The "u" is long, so the word is also spelled "doon".


  1. A valley in the Himalayan foothills, e.g. Dehra Dun.

Etymology 4


  1. A newly hatched, immature mayfly
immature mayfly

Etymology 5

from do


  1. :
    He 'dun it before and he dun it again.
    Now, ya 'dun it!



  1. thin, slender



From Proto-North Sarawak *daqun, from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *dahun.




Pinyin syllable

  1. A transliteration of any of a number of Chinese characters properly represented as having one of four tones, dūn, dún, dǔn, or dùn.

Usage notes

English transcriptions of Chinese speech often fail to distinguish between the critical tonal differences employed in the Chinese language, using words such as this one without the appropriate indication of tone.

Old English


Cognate with Old Irish dun "hill, hill fort" Middle Dutch dune "sandy hill"



Derived terms

Related terms




  1. down, what grows on young birds

Extensive Definition

Dun (from the Brythonic Din (modern Welsh Dinas) and Gaelic Dùn, meaning fort) is now used both as a generic term for a fort (mainly used to describe a sub-group of hill forts) and also for a specific variety of Atlantic roundhouse. In some areas they seem to have been built on any suitable crag or hillock, particularly south of the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth down across the border into Northumberland.
Duns, as forts, appear to have arrived with the Brythonic Celts in about the 7th century BC, associated with their Iron age culture of warrior tribes and petty chieftains. Early Duns had near vertical ramparts constructed of stone laced with timber, and where this was set on fire (accidentally or on purpose) it forms the vitrified forts where stones have been partly melted, an effect that is still clearly visible. Use of Duns continued in some cases into the medieval period.
Duns, as roundhouses, share many characteristics of brochs (often including galleries and stairs), but are smaller and probably would not have been capable of supporting a very tall structure. Very good examples of this kind of dun can be found in the Western Isles of Scotland, on artificial islands in small lochs.


The word in its original sense appears in many place names, and can include fortifications of all sizes and types, for example , Din Eidyn, in Gaelic Dùn Èideann which the Angles renamed Edinburgh, Dún na nGall in Ireland (Irish Gaelic: "fort of foreigners") renamed Donegal by English planters, and the Broch Dun Telve in Glenelg.


The Proto-Celtic form is *Dūno-, yielding Gaulish δου̃νον. It is ultimately cognate to English town. The Gaulish term survives in many toponyms in France and Switzerland,
  • Lyon < Lugdunum.
  • Nevers < Noviodunum
  • Yverdon
  • Scotland Before History - Stuart Piggott, Edinburgh University Press 1982, ISBN 0-85224-348-0
  • Scotland's Hidden History - Ian Armit, Tempus (in association with Historic Scotland) 1998, ISBN 0-7486-6067-4
dun in German: Dun
dun in French: Dun (forteresse)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

account, annoy, apply pressure, bay, bayard, bedevil, beige, beleaguer, beset, besiege, bill, bill collector, bill of account, bill of lading, blandish, brown, brownish, brownish-yellow, brunet, buckskin, bug, buttonhole, cajole, calico pony, caliginous, call, call in, check, chestnut, chocolate, cinnamon, coax, cocoa, cocoa-brown, coffee, coffee-brown, collection agent, credit man, creditor, creditress, dapple-gray, debtee, demand payment, dim, drab, dun-brown, dun-drab, dunner, dusk, dusky, ecru, exert pressure, fawn, fawn-colored, fuscous, gloomy, gnaw, gray, grege, grizzle, harass, hazel, importune, invoice, itemized bill, khaki, lurid, manifest, mortgage-holder, mortgagee, murky, nag, nag at, needle, note-holder, nut-brown, obscure, olive-brown, olive-drab, paint, painted pony, pester, piebald, pinto, plague, ply, press, pressure, push, reckoning, roan, score, seal, seal-brown, send a statement, sepia, skewbald, snuff-colored, somber, sorrel, statement, tab, tan, taupe, tawny, tease, toast, toast-brown, umber, umber-colored, urge, walnut, walnut-brown, wheedle, work on, yellowish-brown
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