I'm not sure the english word "Dungeon" has the same meaning as the french word "Donjon." As far as i remember "Dungeon" means "cell" in english("cachot" in french)
The main tower of a castle is a "Keep" in english and a "Donjon" in french. The keep (donjon) is the main build of a castle or manor.
While a keep can also contain cells we can say that the english "Dungeon" is the same as the french "Donjon" minus the protection meaning.
I think this is what's leading to confusion.
This leads to the D&D meaning of "Dungeon" which is a heroic fantasy evolution of the closed and dark cell, mixed with the labyrinth theme.
Frenchs could have translate "Dungeons & Dragons" by "Cachots & Dragons" but not "Donjons & Dragons." In fact "Donjons & Dragons" is a double mistake =>it should have been something like "Sombres labyrinthes & Dragons"
keep=>dungeon + main build
donjon => keep
EDIT: after verification: i was close to the truth and have simply to add this =
"Dungeon" actually comes from the french word "Donjon" (1) ( = Keep) Their meanings were the same until 14st Century (= "great tower of a castle".) The english word then starts to mean "underground cell" while the french word kept the original meaning.
(1) which himself comes from the latin word dominus (master)
The comment "although the tendency nowadays is to look for other alternatives and let the dungeon hack as a complementary feature" should be expanded upon, with examples of what specific games are meant and what alternatives they offer. As it stands, this is not specific enough to be informative. Rdanhenry 07:01, 11 November 2009 (UTC)