1. the lair or shelter of a wild animal, especially a predatory mammal.
  2. a room, often secluded, in a house or apartment, designed to provide a quiet, comfortable, and informal atmosphere for conversation, reading, writing, etc.
  3. a cave used as a place of shelter or concealment.
  4. a squalid or vile abode or place: dens of misery.
  5. one of the units of a cub scout pack, analogous to a patrol in the Boy Scouts.

verb (used with object), denned, den·ning.

  1. to drive or pursue (an animal) into its den.
  2. to kill (an animal) inside its den.

verb (used without object), denned, den·ning.

  1. to live in or as if in a den.


  1. Baron Alfred Thompson . 1899–1999, English judge; Master of the Rolls 1962-82


  1. the habitat or retreat of a lion or similar wild animal; lair
  2. a small or secluded room in a home, often used for carrying on a hobby
  3. a squalid or wretched room or retreat
  4. a site or haunta den of vice
  5. Scot a small wooded valley; dingle
  6. Scot and Northern English dialect a place of sanctuary in certain catching games; home or base

verb dens, denning or denned

  1. (intr) to live in or as if in a den

Old English denn “wild animal’s lair,” from Proto-Germanic *danjan (cf. Middle Low German denne “lowland, wooded vale, den,” Old English denu “valley,” Old Frisian dene “down,” Old High German tenni, German tenne “threshing floor,” from PIE *dan- “low ground”). Sense of “small room” is 1771, originally colloquial.

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