Haunt | Definition of Haunt by Merriam-Webster


\ ˈhȯnt How to pronounce haunt (audio) , ˈhänt \
haunted; haunting; haunts

Definition of haunt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to visit often : frequent spends a lot of time haunting bookstores
b : to continually seek the company of haunting celebrities impostors that haunt the official in foreign ports— Van Wyck Brooks
2a : to have a disquieting or harmful effect on : trouble problems we ignore now will come back to haunt us
b : to recur constantly and spontaneously to the tune haunted her
c : to reappear continually in a sense of tension that haunts his writing
3 : to visit or inhabit as a ghost believed that the house was haunted Spirits are supposed to haunt the places where their bodies most resorted …— Charles Dickens

intransitive verb

1 : to stay around or persist : linger a haunting fragrance
2 : to appear habitually as a ghost not far from … where she haunted appeared for a short time a much more remarkable spirit— W. B. Yeats


\ ˈhȯnt How to pronounce haunt (audio) , ˈhänt, sense 2 is usually ˈhant \

Definition of haunt (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a place habitually frequented a favorite haunt of college kids
2 chiefly dialectal : ghost

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Other Words from haunt


haunter noun
hauntingly \ ˈhȯn-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce hauntingly (audio) , ˈhän-​ \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for haunt

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of haunt in a Sentence

Verb Some people believe that the ghost of an old sea captain haunts the beach. If you ignore the problem, it will come back to haunt you. Their failure to plan ahead is now coming back to haunt them. The tune haunted me all day. Noun The restaurant became one of her favorite haunts. one of their favorite after-school haunts is Joe's Pizza
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The economic fallout will haunt it for decades to come. Brad Polumbo, National Review, "Why the Economic Scars of Rioting Will Haunt Minneapolis for Decades," 4 Sep. 2020 Asked if any of that past police work will haunt him, Custer said leans on his faith and is not afraid to reach out for help if needed. Jesse Leavenworth, courant.com, "South Windsor police chief to retire," 2 Sep. 2020 Then came the moment to level that will haunt Raheem Sterling, who blazed the ball over an empty net, and a minute later Dembélé scored again. Rob Harris, Star Tribune, "Lyon stuns Man City 3-1 to reach Champions League semifinals," 15 Aug. 2020 Trump's 2020 campaign has been run much more professionally than his first, but a deep sense of chaos continues to haunt Trump's presidency. Steve Peoples, Star Tribune, "2020 Watch: Can Trump expand his coalition beyond his base?," 24 Aug. 2020 The head-shaking trade that brought Tatis to the Padres could haunt the Chicago White Sox for a generation. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Padres ‘supernova’ Fernando Tatis Jr. taking MLB by storm," 11 Aug. 2020 That night — when five law enforcement officers were killed — continues to haunt him. Dallas News, "#BlackatSMU struggles show how systemic changes come too slowly for many," 19 June 2020 The first trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock's award-winning novel is out, with the story centered around a small town and its inhabitants — and the secrets that haunt them. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson Star in Netflix's Creepy The Devil All the Time Trailer," 13 Aug. 2020 Child identity theft is a very real and serious crime that can haunt your child well into adulthood if not caught and addressed as soon as possible. Nathan Bachrach And Amy Wagner, The Enquirer, "Allworth Advice: A backdoor Roth conversion, explained," 12 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The middle level is the haunt of birds with whom the narrator often communes. Laura Miller, The New Yorker, "Susanna Clarke’s Fantasy World of Interiors," 7 Sep. 2020 The trail begins at a desecrated church and the haunt is intense. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Top 5 things to do in Cincinnati this weekend: Sept. 4-6," 3 Sep. 2020 Thousands of people visited the haunt during its opening month. Briana Rice, The Enquirer, "Will local haunted houses open this year? Yes and no.," 27 Aug. 2020 But the songs on The Suburbs don’t so much get stuck in one’s head as haunt it, inspiring inward ruminations of one’s own. Jack Butler, National Review, "An Ode to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs," 18 Aug. 2020 Her main haunt is Half Price Books on 63rd and May in Oklahoma City. Lauren Kent, CNN, "This teacher searches for forgotten mementoes left between the pages of used books -- and helps return the memories," 16 Aug. 2020 If travel plans are discussed, choose to return to an old haunt instead of exploring new territory. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 7 Aug. 2020 One popular haunt, at least virtually: a dingy underground bunker built by the West German Army in the 1970s. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "What getting hacked will cost you ($3.86 million, approximately)," 29 July 2020 In a recent Instagram post, the HGTV Home Town star, extolled the virtues of Jean's, a beloved haunt for over 40 years in the Eastern Mississippi city that's about an hour Northeast of Napier's homebase of Laurel. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "Ben Napier Shares Where To Get Some of the Best Fried Catfish and Cheese Grits in Mississippi," 18 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'haunt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of haunt


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for haunt


Middle English haunten, hanten "to frequent, frequent the company of, dwell in, engage in, practice (a vice or virtue), perform," borrowed from Anglo-French hanter (also continental Old French), of uncertain origin

Note: The origin of the French word has been much argued over in the past century and a half. Given the initial h aspiré (meaning the initial h was pronounced into early modern French and still blocks elision of preceding vowels), the word has usually been given a Germanic source. Perhaps most frequently it has been traced to the Old Norse verb reflected in Old Icelandic heimta "to draw, pull, call on, claim, crave, get back, recover," despite semantic and phonetic objections. Also proffered has been a presumed Old Low Franconian *haimiþōn "to shelter, accommodate." Both etyma are derivatives of Germanic *haima- "dwelling" (see home entry 1). The possibility of a spoken Latin source has been revived in Dictionnaire étymologique de l'ancien français (on line), which suggests *ambitāre, from Latin ambitus "circuit" (see ambit)—see full discussion and bibliography there.


Middle English haunt, hant "frequent visiting, resort, a place frequented, habitual practice of something, usage," borrowed from Anglo-French hant, haunt, derivative of hanter "to frequent, haunt entry 1"

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Time Traveler for haunt

Time Traveler

The first known use of haunt was in the 14th century

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Statistics for haunt

Last Updated

11 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

Haunt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haunt. Accessed 17 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for haunt


How to pronounce haunt (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of haunt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

of a ghost : to visit or live in (a place)
: to eventually cause problems for (someone) as time passes
: to keep coming back to the mind of (someone) especially in a way that makes the person sad or upset


How to pronounce haunt (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of haunt (Entry 2 of 2)

: a place that you go to often


\ ˈhȯnt How to pronounce haunt (audio) \
haunted; haunting

Kids Definition of haunt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to visit or live in as a ghost Spirits haunt the house.
2 : to visit often … I began haunting the docks when the ferry … came in.— Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved
3 : to come to mind frequently The song haunts me.



Kids Definition of haunt (Entry 2 of 2)

: a place often visited The café is her favorite haunt.

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