Word of the Day: Dam and Damn



dam  /  dăm




  1. a wall built across a river or lake that controls water flow

Words, like tranquil waters behind a dam, can become reckless and uncontrollable torrents of destruction when released without caution and wisdom.

William Arthur Ward, 1921 – 1994


  1. a barrier controlling the flow of liquids or other matter

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 – 1968


  1. a body of water contained by a wall or other barrier

With irrigation channels and rivers running dry and municipal water storage dams reaching record lows, California’s politicians are getting desperate for solutions to a drought that seemingly has no end. 

Marc Levine, 1974 –


  1. the mother of a domestic animal

Those rocky islands the ship had passed were the resort of great numbers of seals, and some young seals that had lost their dams, or some dams that had lost their cubs, must have risen nigh the ship and kept company with her, crying and sobbing with their human sort of wail.

From “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, 1819 – 1891




  1. to retain water or control its flow by means of a constructed barrier

It is easier to dam a river than to stop gossip.

Filipino Proverb


  1. to obstruct; to block

How prone poor Humanity is to dam up the minutest remnants of its freedom, and build an artificial roof to prevent it looking up to the clear blue sky.

  1. T. A. Hoffmann, 1776 – 1822









damn  /  dăm




  1. repugnant, detestable

And he’s bad, bad Leroy Brown

The baddest man in the whole damn town

Badder than old King Kong

Meaner than a junkyard dog 

Lyrics from the song “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce, 1943- 1973


adjective, adverb (prenomial) (slang)


  1. used to add emphasis

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.

Elbert Hubbard,  1856 – 1915




  1. extremely

Why is it so damn hard for people to talk?

Tennessee Williams, 1911 – 1983




  1. nothing at all

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

From the 1939 movie “Gone with the Wind”




  1. used to express anger, contempt or annoyance

Damn! I don’t have that much time!

Mitch Hedberg, 1968 – 2005




  1. to curse or swear

Do your duty as you see it, and damn the consequences.

George S. Patton, 1885 – 1945


  1. to condemn to failure, ruin or some other terrible fate

Better have men reproach you for being good, than have God damn you for being wicked.

Thomas Watson, c. 1620 – 1686


  1. to judge as a failure

Acquittal of the guilty damns the judge.

Horace,  65 BC – 8 BC


  1. to condemn to eternal hell

The man who is always worrying whether or not his soul would be damned generally has a soul that isn’t worth a damn.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1809 – 1894


  1. to denounce or criticize greatly

You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884 – 1962