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05 Apr 08:03 AM

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Question about English (UK)

dun, v.3

[‘transitive. To make insistent or repeated demands on (someone), typically for the repayment of a debt. Frequently with for.’]

Pronunciation: Brit. /dʌn/, U.S. /dən/

Origin: Of uncertain origin.

Etymology:Origin uncertain.


Related to dun n.2, although it is unclear whether the noun or the verb is primary.
Apparently a recent formation at the time when the noun is first attested in the 1620s, and still perceived to be new by Blount (in quot. 1656 at sense 1).


Compare the following early suggestion of a derivation from a personal name:
1708 Brit. Apollo 3–8 Sept. The word Dun..owes its birth to one Joe Dun, a famous Bailif of the Town of Lincoln..It became a Proverb..when a man refused to pay his Debts, Why don't you Dun him? That is why don't you send Dun to arrest him?.. It is now as old as since the days of King Henry the Seventh.


It has also been suggested that the verb originated as a specific use of dun v.2 (although this is last attested at the end of the 15th cent.) or of a variant of din v., with reference to the creditor clamouring for payment.
1. transitive. To make insistent or repeated demands on (someone), typically for the repayment of a debt. Frequently with for.

?1648 Proposalls Comm. regulating Law 4 A Country Solicitor..is wont to dun the Offices with a pitifull importunity.

1656 T. Blount Glossographia To Dun, is a word lately taken up by fancy, and signifies
to demand earnestly, or press a man to pay for commodities taken up on trust, or other debt.

1679 Bacon's Apothegms 59 in T. Tenison Baconiana The advice of the plain old man at Buxton that sold besoms..‘Friend, hast thou no money? borrow of thy back, and borrow of thy belly, they will never ask thee again: I shall be dunning thee every day’.

1707 G. Farquhar Beaux Stratagem iii. 30 I remember the good Days, when we cou'd dun our Masters for our Wages.

1772 London Evening-post 21–23 May You dunned, in a very indecent manner, some persons who had attended your Lectures for their money.

1831 Lincoln Herald 16 Dec. 4/6 Ministers are again dunning the king for more Peers.

1895 Wisconsin Jrnl. Educ. Nov. p. ix/1 The liar whom the editor hates worst of all is the man who, when dunned for a year's subscription, says he only received two or three copies during the year and refuses to pay.

1974 J. A. Michener Centennial xiii. 810 The bank was dunning them to repay a small loan.

2014 N.Y. Times(Nexis) 7 Dec. (Business section) 3 I am now being dunned for $80.63.
2. transitive.
a. To pester or plague (a person) with something unpleasant, esp. repeated arguments or unwanted comments; to assail constantly. Usually with with.

1659 H. Neville Shufling, Cutting, & Dealing 5 I am so dun'd with the Spleen, I should think on something else all the while I were a playing.

1711 J. Anderson Countrey-man's Let. to Curat 72 I'm so dunn'd with your Author's demonstrations, that they can take no effect upon me.

1720 R. Wodrow Corr.(1843) II. 486 I am dunned with letters upon all hands from London and Edinburgh, urging us to meet, and do somewhat.

1845 Brit. & Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter 19 Mar. 55/1 The planters have for years been dunning us with the affirmation, that wages to free men are a much heavier charge than to keep slaves ever was.

1928 Times of India 17 Mar. 16/1 The pessimists in India and England who have far too long dunned us with jeremiads over the past.

2005 T. F. Godlove in I. Strenski Teaching Durkheim ii. 13 I had been dunned with the standard orthodox drill about Durkheim.
b. spec. To assail (a person's ears) with constant, wearying noise or chatter, unwanted comments, etc. Frequently with with. Cf. din v. 2.

1674 H. Croft Let. Popish Idolatrie 16 'Tis a main Argument with them, and they are perpetually dunning our ears with it.

1753 School of Man 24 Ismena..concealed her desire, whilst Philemon was dunning everybody's ears with his.

1798 D. Crawford Poems 22 Duns my ears Wi' what was thought could maist defame The Volunteers.

1853 Christian Advocate May 78 These visits..merge at last in the pastor having his ears dunned with the complaints of one party against another, instead of any profitable conversation.

1931 F. Binder Journey in Eng. ii. 19 Our eyes are held up by the headline, our ears are dunned and deafened by advertisement.

2013 F. Dennis Love, of Kind(2014) 6 Our bitter tears and curses dun the ears Of gods gone deaf.
3. transitive. To drive (a particular idea, notion, thought, etc.) into a person's mind by continual or emphatic repetition. Cf. din v. 3.
Frequently, esp. in early use, with ears as the prepositional object of into; in these cases the emphasis is sometimes more on the wearying nature of the instruction than on the idea implanted in the mind by it (cf. sense 2b).

1775 Strictures, Misc. & Compar. 84 The Protestant and Reformed Boasts of such Churches, for ever and ever dunned into our ears, may very emphatically be alluded to.

1830 Fraser's Mag. June 588/1 Big with the idea of that self-importance which from his earliest years is dunned into his ear.

1880 R. N. Cust Ling. & Oriental Ess. x. 302 The shape of the Continents is so dunned into us at school, that we cannot forget what was beyond and on both sides of the Indus.

1889 J. Thomson Trav. in Atlas & Southern Morocco xxiii. 332 Warnings like these had often been dunned in my ears, but, as before, I remained deaf.

1967 Flying May 73/1 lt methodically tortured innumerable aviation cadets and dunned into their tormented heads the idea that instrument flying had come from Dante's list of infernal punishments for aviators.

2011 N. Rankin Ian Fleming's Commandos ii. 37 ‘Please, God, make me like father’ was the prayer dunned into the boys.

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