[def-uh n-duhm]

adjective Offensive.

Origin of deaf-and-dumb

1150–1200; Middle English def and doumb

Usage note

See dumb. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deaf-and-dumb

Historical Examples of deaf-and-dumb

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for deaf-and-dumb



unable to hear or speak


a deaf person without speech


Using deaf-and-dumb to refer to people without speech is considered outdated and offensive, and should be avoided.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