Definition of douse in English:


(also dowse)


[with object]
  • 1Pour a liquid over; drench.

    ‘he doused the car with petrol and set it on fire’
    • ‘Her t-shirt was doused in some liquid most likely liquor.’
    • ‘Water passes through vents with each flush and is doused with fragrant liquid.’
    • ‘Cupping my hands of the cool liquid, I doused my face in it, staring up at my wet faced reflection in the mirror blankly.’
    • ‘On-board sprinklers also doused the car decks.’
    • ‘Jonathan immediately bought some of the approved disinfectant from the vet and liberally doused the car and his boots.’
    • ‘This worked about as well as the little baggie of muesli, whose contents one was expected to douse in a milk-like liquid.’
    • ‘Investigators later discovered the blaze had been started with paper and rugs doused with a flammable liquid in two upstairs bedrooms, the drawing room and the garage.’
    • ‘The video, which was taped over the last two years, features scenes of two young men with shaved heads dousing unsuspecting vagrants and drug addicts with a liquid.’
    • ‘Before major events in the city, he has spent thousands of dollars to douse clouds with dry ice and liquid nitrogen.’
    • ‘Stylists at Cartoon Cuts wash as well as cut their customers' hair, dousing the suds with hoses that emanate from the trunks of green fiberglass elephants.’
    • ‘Moments later, one of the girls douses him with a hose.’
    • ‘She doused my hair in the sweet smelling liquid and then stepped back so I could stand up and check out my new hair style to go along with the new dress that was hanging out the back of a chair.’
    • ‘He poured himself a bowl of cereal, and doused it with milk, and started to come out onto the deck when his eyes fell on his sister.’
    • ‘In fact, I barely missed being doused with a cup of water some brat poured out of a window as we walked by his house.’
    • ‘After thoroughly covering your entire body, turn on the warm water and liberally douse a loofah with a liquid soap.’
    • ‘I gratefully grab a cup from a girl in a yellow bib, take a couple of sips and pour the cold water over my head, feeling it douse my hair, run down my face and trickle onto my chest.’
    • ‘They were both then doused with water as a safety precaution.’
    • ‘He noted the house had been doused in petrol after it was ransacked.’
    • ‘His black hair was doused with water and laid plastered all over his head.’
    • ‘Each was excellent, whether or not it was doused with the accompanying tomato sauce or sour cream.’
    drench, soak, souse, saturate, drown, flood, inundate, deluge, wet, splash, slosh, hose down
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  • 2Extinguish (a fire or light)

    ‘stewards appeared and the fire was doused’
    ‘nothing could douse her sudden euphoria’
    • ‘At the airfield, chaos reigned as rescue crews equipped with fire extinguishers doused the flames emanating from the downed fighter.’
    • ‘He sprung into action, grabbing the lab's fire blanket and dousing the flames that were playing across the workbench.’
    • ‘It was only as the fire brigade doused the final embers in my gutted home that I wondered if perhaps the invite had been a subtle Valentine's message after all.’
    • ‘Luckily fire crews managed to douse the flames and neither of the women were injured.’
    • ‘Team personnel spotted the fire, and firefighters doused the blaze before it could damage the team's building.’
    • ‘With the air reeking of smoke, the firefighters got to work in dousing the flames as the flashing blue light of the fire engine lit the neighbourhood.’
    • ‘A petrol attendant and a builder from a nearby construction site doused the flames with about a dozen fire extinguishers that were hastily gathered by people from around the area.’
    • ‘Fire tenders rushed to the spot and doused the flames.’
    • ‘It was decided that a hose from the fire engine could damage evidence, and instead water from a bucket was used to gently dowse the fire.’
    • ‘And in Farnworth, firemen are the latest victims of baying, bottle-throwing youths who objected to them dousing a fire in the area where they congregate and upset residents.’
    • ‘Eleven gallons of beer sprayed out of the burst pipe, dousing the fire as it took hold at the Victorian Ball Inn at Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, in the early hours of New Year's Eve.’
    • ‘The solo Canvey fire crew on duty yesterday first sprang into action at 4pm, dousing a rubbish fire at the side of the road in Fifth Avenue.’
    • ‘Most people went back home the same evening as the fire was doused eventually.’
    • ‘Since there is no access to large volumes of water, fires in Central Australia are generally fought with machinery like graders and bulldozers and small containers of water to douse spot fires which jump breaks.’
    • ‘Mr Clear explained that if a lake was put in place not only would it be a great amenity to the Slieve Blooms but also a great source of water to douse any fires which may break out in the forestry.’
    • ‘The teen reacted instinctively and without regard for his own safety climbed through the flat's lounge window to help the woman douse the fire which had started in a bin in her lounge.’
    • ‘A racegoer tries to identify his vehicle while a fireman on the left douses sparks in another car.’
    • ‘They cut two metres of thatch from around the chimney and used a stirrup pump to dowse the smouldering straw.’
    • ‘Team personnel spotted the fire, and firefighters doused the blaze before it could damage the team's building.’
    • ‘He grabbed a thick cloth from his pack, and doused the torch.’
    extinguish, put out, quench, stamp out, smother, beat out, dampen down
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  • 3Sailing
    Lower (a sail) quickly.

    • ‘Genoas were doused and mainsails on both boats slatted idly in still air as they passed through the Gap on the quiet high tide.’
    • ‘Some shielded their eyes from the intense lights as others began to douse the ship's sails, accepting the fact that their voyage had come to an early end.’
    • ‘My older brothers would clunk along the deck above, hauling on lines, and shouting to each other in the wind as they struggled to douse the flapping sails.’


Early 17th century perhaps imitative, influenced by souse, or perhaps from dialect douse ‘strike, beat’, from Middle Dutch and Low German dossen.