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[duhl] /dʌl/
adjective, duller, dullest.
not sharp; blunt:
a dull knife.
causing boredom; tedious; uninteresting:
a dull sermon.
not lively or spirited; listless.
not bright, intense, or clear; dim:
a dull day; a dull sound.
having very little depth of color; lacking in richness or intensity of color.
slow in motion or action; not brisk; sluggish:
a dull day in the stock market.
mentally slow; lacking brightness of mind; somewhat stupid; obtuse.
lacking keenness of perception in the senses or feelings; insensible; unfeeling.
not intense or acute:
a dull pain.
verb (used with or without object)
to make or become dull.
Origin of dull
1200-50; Middle English; akin to Old English dol foolish, stupid; cognate with German toll
Related forms
dullness, dulness, noun
dully, adverb
undulled, adjective
1. Dull, blunt refer to the edge or point of an instrument, tool, or the like. Dull implies a lack or a loss of keenness or sharpness: a dull razor or saw. Blunt may mean the same or may refer to an edge or point not intended to be keen or sharp: a blunt or stub pen; a blunt foil. 2. boring, tiresome, dreary, vapid. 3. apathetic, torpid, inactive, inert. 7. unimaginative, unintelligent, stolid. Dull, blunted, slow, stupid are applied to mental qualities. Dull implies obtuseness, lack of imagination: a dull child. Blunted implies loss of original keenness of intelligence through disease, sad experience, or the like: blunted faculties. Slow applies to a sluggish intellect: a slow mind. Stupid implies slowness of mental processes, but also lack of intelligence, wisdom, prudence, etc.: a stupid person. 10. blunt, deaden, benumb; depress, dishearten, discourage.
1. sharp, keen. 2. interesting. 7. bright. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for dulling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • How I welcomed the gradual deadening of my senses, the dulling of my fevered brain!

    Who? Elizabeth Kent
  • I should merely be dulling your appetite, without satisfying your hunger.

    Daisy Ashford: Her Book Daisy Ashford
  • Brought to earth by this mischance, he saw our follies and our crimes without the dulling influence of custom.

  • There is a pathetic reference in a letter to this dulling of his power of vision.

    Schopenhauer Margrieta Beer
  • Already the mist was making grey softness of the air, dulling the street lights to ruddy orange.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • A look of fright and joy came into Mrs. Vincent's dulling eyes.

    Margaret Vincent Sophia Lucy Clifford
  • It is also dulling her sense of the necessity of keeping her business abreast with the times.

  • There came a louder clamor—volcanic, chaotic, dulling the thunders.

    The Metal Monster A. Merritt
  • The passion of the man, the terrible pity for these people, came out of his soul now, whitening his face and dulling his eyes.

British Dictionary definitions for dulling


slow to think or understand; stupid
lacking in interest
lacking in perception or the ability to respond; insensitive
lacking sharpness; blunt
not acute, intense, or piercing
(of weather) not bright or clear; cloudy
not active, busy, or brisk
lacking in spirit or animation; listless
(of colour) lacking brilliance or brightness; sombre
not loud or clear; muffled
(med) (of sound elicited by percussion, esp of the chest) not resonant
to make or become dull
Derived Forms
dullish, adjective
dullness, dulness, noun
dully, adverb
Word Origin
Old English dol; related to Old Norse dul conceit, Old High German tol foolish, Greek tholeros confused
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 dulling



c.1200, "stupid;" early 13c., "blunt, not sharp;" rare before mid-14c., apparently from Old English dol "dull-witted, foolish," or an unrecorded parallel word, or from Middle Low German dul "slow-witted," both from Proto-Germanic *dulaz (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon dol "foolish," Old High German tol, German toll "mad, wild," Gothic dwals "foolish"), from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, vapor, smoke" (and related notions of "defective perception or wits"). Of color from early 15c.; of pain or other sensations from 1725. Sense of "boring" first recorded 1580s.

dull. (8) Not exhilarating; not delightful; as to make dictionaries is dull work. [Johnson]
Dullsville, slang for "town where nothing happens," attested from 1960.


c.1200, "to grow weary, tire;" of pointed or edged things from c.1400; of the senses from 1550s; from dull (adj.). Related: Dulled; dulling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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dulling in Medicine

dull (dŭl)
adj. dull·er, dull·est

  1. Lacking responsiveness or alertness; insensitive.

  2. Not intensely or keenly felt, as in pain.

dull'ness n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Idioms and Phrases with dulling


In addition to the idiom beginning with dull also see: never a dull moment
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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