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[nuhm] /nʌm/
adjective, number, numbest.
deprived of physical sensation or the ability to move:
fingers numb with cold.
manifesting or resembling numbness:
a numb sensation.
incapable of action or of feeling emotion; enervated; prostrate:
numb with grief.
lacking or deficient in emotion or feeling; indifferent:
She was numb to their pleas for mercy.
verb (used with object)
to make numb.
Origin of numb
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English nome literally, taken, seized, variant of nomen, numen, Old English numen, past participle of niman to take, nim1
Related forms
numbly, adverb
numbness, noun
half-numb, adjective
unnumbed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for numbly
Historical Examples
  • numbly he recognized the countenances which were turned toward him.

    Beyond the Black River Robert E. Howard
  • numbly the thought came to her of how long she had waited for this.

    Rich Man, Poor Man

    Maximilian Foster
  • numbly they followed on—Dor and Jon and Jak and the two youngsters.

    The Forgotten Planet Murray Leinster
  • Her eyes vacant and numbly fixed, she rose slowly to her feet.

    The Wolf Cub Patrick Casey
  • A standby pattern lighted the screen, and I stared at it numbly.

    Backlash Winston Marks
  • Shandor read, numbly, his mind twisting in protest as the picture unfolded.

    Bear Trap Alan Edward Nourse
  • Maria obeyed, but she did that numbly, without any realization of the task.

    By the Light of the Soul Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • "I am trying to," said Thornton numbly, watching her as she moved about.

    The Miracle Man Frank L. Packard
  • She walked blindly, numbly to her room, assisted by her uncle, the Count.

    Graustark George Barr McCutcheon
  • They knelt together, and Hyacinth, numbly indifferent, felt his hand grasped and held.

    Hyacinth George A. Birmingham
British Dictionary definitions for numbly


deprived of feeling through cold, shock, etc
unable to move; paralysed
characteristic of or resembling numbness: a numb sensation
verb (transitive)
to make numb; deaden, shock, or paralyse
Derived Forms
numbly, adverb
numbness, noun
Word Origin
C15: nomen, literally: taken (with paralysis), from Old English niman to take; related to Old Norse nema, Old High German niman
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 numbly



1550s, from numb (adj.). Related: Numbed; numbing.



c.1400, nome, "deprived of motion or feeling," literally "taken, seized," from past participle of nimen "to take, seize," from Old English niman "to take, catch, grasp" (see nimble). The extraneous -b (to conform to comb, limb, etc.) appeared 17c. The notion is of being "taken" with palsy, shock, and especially cold. Figurative use from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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numbly in Medicine

numb (nŭm)

  1. Being unable or only partially able to feel sensation or pain; deadened or anesthetized.

  2. Being emotionally unresponsive; indifferent.

v. numbed, numb·ing, numbs
To make or become numb.
numb'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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Slang definitions & phrases for numbly



Stupid; unresponsive (1950s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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