This one’s sort of a wash. The dungeon pix in the link are about what that cute-little-flat would have looked like in the days before indoor plumbing, electric lights, and Marlite paneling. No matter how slick and homey it looks, if you can’t leave for 24 years, it’s a prison cell. I don’t think “dungeon” is an exaggeration.
This is an interesting example of the difference between connotative and denotative meaning. Even though the chamber in question fits an accepted formal definition of dungeon, the word usually suggests characteristics that are not part of that definition. So the usage can be said to be both accurate and exaggerated.
Nicely put. I was thinking of how to explain that although the OP may have been technically incorrect, the point being made was clear and one I agree with: the word ‘dungeon’ brings up images of dank stone chambers which was clearly not the case.
The question I’m left with is whether the writers of the headlines knew they were being misleading, or if they assumed the denotative meaning was well-known.
Revtim, I agree with you and WFTomba. To my mind, however, while calling that space a dungeon is sensationalistic, using it in a headline would be effective and I think valid, as well:
Austrian Man Kept Daughter in Dungeon - For 24 Years
As a headline, or leader to the story, I think it is well served by both the connotative and denotative definitions. The space meets the definition of a dungeon - an underground place to imprison; and the connotations of torture prepare the reader for the other horrors that will follow in the story, as the reader gets the full details of rape and incest.
I agree with the OP, however, the use of the term in the meat of the story is a bit less defensible. It’s not completely wrong, but it’s still a bit misleading when talking simply about the space that the daughter and her children were housed within.
It’s not perfect, but I can’t think of a better word to use here. “Cell” is even less correct, as it implies no amenities, and “underground apartment” really doesn’t connote the horror of it all. I’m actually kinda glad that no word exists to really fit this situation. I’d hate to think we need one.