Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Fawn

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is fawn. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

To fawn over someone is to court their favor by groveling or by flattering the person. Fawn is also sometimes used of dogs to mean “to show affection.”

// Still new to celebrity, the musician seemed a bit baffled by those fawning over her during her recent visit to her hometown.

// I’d only been gone five minutes but the puppy fawned on me like I’d been away for hours.

FAWN in Context

“… it seems that being a tough guy who finds his soft spot in the form of a child is his [actor Pedro Pascal] thing and we are here for it. You know who else is here for it? Pedro Pascal. In true daddy fashion, he is a spectacularly good sport about constantly being fawned over in this manner …” — Jamie Kenney,, 24 Feb. 2023

Did You Know?

Language lovers, rejoice! If you’re the sort of person who fawns over etymology (one of the best sorts of people, in our opinion), then you’ll be glad to know the story of fawn: it comes ultimately from the Old English adjective fægen or fagan, meaning “glad,” by way of Old English fagnian, meaning “to rejoice.” Hooray! But we’re not finished yet, my dear. Note that this fawn is not, despite appearances, related to the noun fawn that refers to a young deer. For that we can thank the Latin noun fetus, meaning “offspring.”

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