[ def ]
See synonyms for deaf on
adjective,deaf·er, deaf·est.
  1. partially or wholly lacking or deprived of the sense of hearing; unable to hear.

  2. refusing to listen, heed, or be persuaded; unreasonable or unyielding: deaf to all advice.

  1. Deaf, of or relating to the Deaf or their cultural community: Deaf customs and values.

noun(used with a plural verb)
  1. Deaf persons collectively (usually preceded by the): social services for the Deaf.

  2. Usually the Deaf . Deaf persons who identify themselves as members of a community composed of Deaf persons and others who share in their culture.

Origin of deaf

First recorded before 900; Middle English deef, Old English dēaf; cognate with Middle Low German dōf, Dutch doof, Old High German toub

pronunciation note For deaf

Deaf is usually pronounced [def], /dɛf/, with the vowel of left. In uneducated speech the dialectal pronunciation [deef], /dif/, to rhyme with leaf, is still heard occasionally, but it is increasingly rare.

Other words from deaf

  • deafly, adverb
  • deafness, noun
  • half-deaf, adjective
  • non·deaf, adjective
  • non·deaf·ly, adverb
  • non·deaf·ness, noun
  • quasi-deaf, adjective
  • quasi-deafly, adverb
  • sem·i·deaf, adjective
  • sem·i·deaf·ness, noun
  • un·deaf, adjective

Words Nearby deaf Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use deaf in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for deaf


/ (dɛf) /

    • partially or totally unable to hear

    • (as collective noun; preceded by the): the deaf See also tone-deaf

  1. refusing to heed: deaf to the cries of the hungry

Origin of deaf

Old English dēaf; related to Old Norse daufr


Derived forms of deaf

  • deafly, adverb
  • deafness, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with deaf


In addition to the idiom beginning with deaf

  • deaf as a post

also see:

  • fall on deaf ears
  • stone deaf
  • turn a deaf ear

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.