[def-uh n]

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.
Obsolete. to render (a sound) inaudible, especially by a louder sound.


Origin of deafen

First recorded in 1590–1600; deaf + -en1
Related formsdeaf·en·ing·ly, adverbhalf-deaf·ened, adjectivenon·deaf·ened, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deafen

Contemporary Examples of deafen

Historical Examples of deafen

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • At dark, swarms fill our room, deafen our ears, and irritate our skin.

    Mary and I

    Stephen Return Riggs

British Dictionary definitions for deafen



(tr) 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

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

Medicine definitions for deafen




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.