General English

  • noun the possibility of something bad happening, e.g. damage, failure or getting hurt



  • noun a situation where people may be killed or injured
  • noun something which may cause harm or injury

Origin & History of “danger”

Etymologically, danger is a parallel formation to dominion. It comes ultimately from vulgar Latin *domniārium ‘power or sway of a lord, dominion, jurisdiction’, a derivative of Latin dominus ‘lord, master’. English acquired the word via Old French dangier and Anglo-Norman daunger, retaining the word’s original sense until the 17th century (‘You stand within his (Shylock’s) danger, do you not?’ says Portia to Antonio in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice). But things had been happening to its meaning in Old French, particularly in the phrase estre en dangier ‘be in danger’. The notions of being in someone’s danger (that is, ‘in his power, at his mercy’) and of being in danger of something (that is, ‘liable to something unpleasant, such as loss or punishment’ – a sense preserved in the 1611 translation of the sermon on the Mount: ‘Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment’, Matthew 5:22) led directly to the sense ‘peril’, acquired by English in the 14th century.