Word curio icon

Word Curio

November 7, 2018

Word of the Day: Derring-do

1 CQ

Word of the Day : November 7, 2018

derring-do \dair-ing-DOO\ noun


: daring action : daring

Did You Know?

Derring-do is a quirky holdover from Middle English that came to occupy its present place in the language by a series of mistakes and misunderstandings. In Middle English, dorring don meant simply "daring to do." For example, Geoffrey Chaucer used dorring don around 1374 when he described a knight "daring to do" brave deeds. The phrase was misprinted as derring do in a 16th-century edition of a 15th-century work by poet John Lydgate, and Edmund Spenser took it up from there, assuming it was meant as a substantive, or noun phrase. (A glossary to Spenser's work defined it as "manhood and chevalrie.") Sir Walter Scott and others in the 19th century got the phrase from Spenser and brought it into modern use.

Aired November 7, 2018

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max