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[def-uh n-duhm] /ˈdɛf ənˈdʌm/
adjective, Offensive.
deaf-mute (def 1).
Origin of deaf-and-dumb
1150-1200; Middle English def and doumb
Usage note
See dumb. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for deaf-and-dumb
Historical Examples
  • A deaf-and-dumb institution 'would capitulate in half an hour.

    Arthur O'Leary Charles James Lever
  • The hall wore its deaf-and-dumb air, its black-and-white stillness.

    The Arrow of Gold Joseph Conrad
  • He is a deaf-and-dumb caddie, who has never been known to laugh at anything.

    Cobb's Bill-of-Fare Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
  • Indeed the suggestion, which you have just made, of a deaf-and-dumb alphabet is capital.

  • There was also Graves, his deaf-and-dumb gardener, and a new bucket for the well.

    Plashers Mead Compton Mackenzie
  • Looking up and seeing me, he says, in our deaf-and-dumb talk, “Do not be angry.”

    Doctor Marigold Charles Dickens
  • This deaf-and-dumb servitor was driven mad by a fact which caused him joy.

    The Circular Study Anna Katharine Green
  • This deaf-and-dumb servitor was driven mad by the fact which caused him joy.

    The Circular Study Anna Katharine Green
  • His is the language of gesture and look, and is very similar to that in use by our deaf-and-dumb men throughout the world.

  • When the deaf-and-dumb book agent wrote something on a pencil pad and pushed it toward him, he replied in kind.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
British Dictionary definitions for deaf-and-dumb


unable to hear or speak
a deaf person without speech
Usage note
Using deaf-and-dumb to refer to people without speech is considered outdated and offensive, and should be avoided. The phrase profoundly deaf is a suitable alternative in many contexts
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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