Definition of derring-do in English:



dated, humorous
  • Action displaying heroic courage.

    ‘tales of derring-do’
    • ‘Now, I'm sure some of you with a more sceptical nature might find my tales of invisible derring-do a little hard to believe.’
    • ‘After decades of being considered bad form, tales of imperial derring-do are making something of a comeback.’
    • ‘‘I was keen to write a pantomime as a pastiche of a classic tale of derring-do,’ said Richard.’
    • ‘The story is fast-moving and filled with heroic derring-do, impressive action sequences, and deeply-felt tragedy.’
    • ‘The programme will be of interest to those who either know nothing about the siege, or who never tire of hearing the same violent tale of derring-do repeated time and again.’


Late 16th century: from late Middle English dorryng do daring to do used by Chaucer, and, in a passage by Lydgate based on Chaucer's work, misprinted in 16th-century editions as derrynge do; this was misinterpreted by Spenser to mean manhood, chivalry and subsequently taken up and popularized by Sir Walter Scott.