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[def-uh n] /ˈdɛf ən/
verb (used with object)
to make deaf:
The accident deafened him for life.
to stun or overwhelm with noise:
The pounding of the machines deafened us.
deaden (def 3).
Obsolete. to render (a sound) inaudible, especially by a louder sound.
Origin of deafen
First recorded in 1590-1600; deaf + -en1
Related forms
deafeningly, adverb
half-deafened, adjective
nondeafened, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for deafen
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was useless to struggle against it, and deafen my ears to the cry.

    Child and Country Will Levington Comfort
  • "He yells loud enough to deafen a chanter," continued Gauchre.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • The eternal drumming in the streets is enough to deafen one for life.

  • It is to deafen, to keep down in some measure, the clamors of his bad conscience.

    Public School Education Michael Mller
  • At dark, swarms fill our room, deafen our ears, and irritate our skin.

    Mary and I

    Stephen Return Riggs
  • The noise of the discharge is an evil, it ought to be made to do work, not deafen.

  • So as to deafen myself a little I do this: I drum on my ears.

  • The roar of the surf, which had troubled him ever since his adventure, threatened to deafen him.

    With Wolseley to Kumasi F.S. Brereton
  • The whistles of the police leaped through the air, but did not deafen the shouts.


    Maksim Gorky
British Dictionary definitions for deafen


(transitive) to make deaf, esp momentarily, as by a loud noise
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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Word Origin and History for deafen

1590s, "to make deaf," from deaf + -en (1). The earlier verb was simply deaf (mid-15c.). For "to become deaf, to grow deaf," Old English had adeafian (intransitive), which survived into Middle English as deave but then took on a transitive sense from mid-14c. and sank from use except in dialects (where it mostly has transitive and figurative senses), leaving English without an intransitive verb here.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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deafen in Medicine

deafen deaf·en (děf'ən)
v. deaf·ened, deaf·en·ing, deaf·ens
To make deaf, especially momentarily by a loud noise.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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