from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Sleep; rest.
  • noun A crude or makeshift bed.
  • intransitive verb To go to bed, especially in a crude or makeshift bed; sleep.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A hassock.
  • To attack with the horns; toss.
  • To pay: as, to doss down money.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Slang A place to sleep in; a bed; hence, sleep.
  • intransitive verb to sleep in a convenient place.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To avoid work, shirk, etc.
  • verb UK, slang To sleep in the open or in a derelict building because one is homeless
  • noun Work avoidance.
  • noun Easy piece of work
  • adjective Describes a useless or lazy person. Generally combined with expletive noun, especially cunt.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb sleep in a convenient place


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Perhaps alteration of dorse, back, from Latin dorsum.]


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word doss.


  • I had read about doss-houses (they are never called doss-houses, by the way), and I supposed that one could get a bed for fourpence or thereabouts.

    Down and Out in Paris and London 2004

  • Such, sir, are you by general confession; such are the things achieved by you, the greatest and most glorious of our countrymen, the director of our public councils, the leader of unconquered armies, the father of your country; for by that title doss every good man hail you with sincere and voluntary praise. "

    Lives of the English Poets : Waller, Milton, Cowley Samuel Johnson 1746

  • And he would; right now his doss was a stable garret, cheap enough and cool enough even by day, now it was summer, but boring.

    Take A Thief Lackey, Mercedes 2001

  • An Unfortunate could not get out of the weather and find a bit of food unless she could convince a man to take her in or give her small change so she could rent a bed for the night in a common lodging house called a doss-house.

    Portrait of a Killer Cornwell, Patricia 1930

  • Name, age, occupation, place of birth, condition of destitution, and the previous night's "doss," were taken with lightning-like rapidity by the superintendent; and as I turned I was startled by a man's thrusting into my hand something that felt like

    THE SPIKE 2010

  • As an instance of their despatch, they will take your bedding ashore in the morning, and by tea-time you will receive it ready for turning in, the blanket washed and dried, the hair teazed and made so soft that you would scarcely fancy it was the same old "doss" again.

    In Eastern Seas Or, the Commission of H.M.S. 'Iron Duke,' flag-ship in China, 1878-83 J. J. Smith

  • For myself, I had not been in a bed for so long that I positively felt restless, and almost rolled out of bed so as to have a comfortable "doss" on the ground (it seemed like a case of the pig returning to its wallowing).

    A Yeoman's Letters Third Edition P. T. Ross

  • To pound one's wife to a jelly and break a few of her ribs is a trivial offence compared with sleeping out under the naked stars because one has not the price of a doss.


  • I believe Gadget wrote about the tendency of many “Police Officers” to do the bare minimum at the front line before trying to find a comfy doss job.

    If Carlsberg Made Justice Secretaries………… « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG Inspector Gadget 2009

  • Embankment; but things looked brighter for next week, and he might possibly get in a few days 'work and have a bed in some doss-house.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • She dossed and durned all night.

    December 25, 2008

  • Groan! Was it a very bad cold that kept her awake?

    The root is more commonly seen personified (dosser, not to be confused with tosser) or rendered in bricks (dosshouse).

    December 25, 2008

  • ". . .a monkish cot to doss down on with torn pillows and a quilt fully of scummy stains. . ." Gilbert Adair translation of Georges Perec's La Disparition

    August 11, 2010

  • Nowhere could they find a bigger flat in London at even double the price. He would have to leave home to make room for the incoming child. Not that he could afford separate accommodation, but perhaps he could live in the Museum, hiding when the closing bell rang and dossing down on one of the broad-topped desks with a pile of books for a pillow.
    David Lodge, The British Museum Is Falling Down (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1965), p. 88

    December 1, 2015

  • (verb) - (1) To sleep. In the old pugilistic days, a man knocked down, or "out of time," was said to be "sent to dorse." But whether because he was senseless, or because he lay on his back, is not known, though most likely the latter. Formerly spelt dorse; from Gaelic dosal, slumber. --John Camden Hotten's Slang Dictionary, 1887 (2) To dorse with a woman signifies to sleep with her. --Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1796

    February 11, 2018