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illustration Derring-Do



Part of speech: noun

Origin: Middle English, late 16th century


(Dated, humorous) Action displaying heroic courage.

Examples of Derring-Do in a sentence

"The spy novel was filled with instances of derring-do."

"Elizabeth dreamed of being swept off her feet by a a suitor’s derring-do."

About Derring-Do

In the late 14th century, the term was “dorrying don,” literally translated to “daring (to) do, stemming from “durring,” meaning “daring.” This term is the present participle of the Middle English “durren,” meaning “to dare” — a combination of the verb “dare” + “don,” the infinitive of “do.”

Did you Know?

“Derring-do” came about through a chain of mistakes and misinterpretations. Its Middle English root, “dorrying don,” means “daring to do.” But it was misprinted as “derrynge do” in 16th-century writings by poet John Lydgate. From there, it was mistaken as a noun by Edmund Spenser, who defined it as "manhood and chevalrie." Author Sir Walter Scott and several Romantic poets used it in their work and brought “derring-do” into (somewhat) modern language.

illustration Derring-Do

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