Stairs in an ancient dungeon.
An example of a dungeon is the dark room with bars on it under the first floor of the castle where the king keeps his prisoners.
- a dark underground cell, vault, or prison
Origin of dungeonMiddle English dongoun from Old French donjon, probably from Frankish an unverified form dungjo, earth-covered cellar for storing fruits: see dung
- A dark, often underground chamber used to confine prisoners.
- A donjon.
Origin of dungeonMiddle English donjon castle keep, dungeon from Old French keep probably from Medieval Latin domniō domniōn- the lord's tower from Latin dominus master ; see dem- in Indo-European roots.
From Middle English dungeon, dungeoun, dungun (“castle keep, prison cell below the castle, dungeon”), from Old French donjon (“castle keep”), from Frankish *dungjo (“prison, dungeon, underground cellar”), from Proto-Germanic *dungijō, *dungijǭ (“enclosed space, vault, bower, treasury”), from Proto-Germanic *dungaz, *dungō (“dung, manure”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰengʰ- (“to cover”). Cognate with Old English dung (“prison, dungeon”), Old Saxon dung (“underground cellar”), Old High German tung ("underground cellar"; > German Tunk (“manure or soil covered basement, underground weaving workshop”)), Old Norse dyngja ("a detached apartment, a lady's bower"; > Icelandic dyngja (“chamber”)). More at dung.
The game term has been popularized by Dungeons & Dragons.