Origin of deafening

First recorded in 1590–1600; deafen + -ing1
Related formshalf-deaf·en·ing, adjectivenon·deaf·en·ing, adjectivenon·deaf·en·ing·ly, adverbqua·si-deaf·en·ing, adjective


[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 deafening

Contemporary Examples of deafening

Historical Examples of deafening

  • Why do you make such a deafening noise, you pussy cat, there behind the stove?

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • It was Beauvallet, the deafening tragedian of the Comdie Franaise.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • The roar of the wind and the surging of water were all around, and were deafening.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • The deafening noises of the faubourg sounded like bells in their ears.


    Emile Zola

  • When the last battalions came in sight the uproar was deafening.

British Dictionary definitions for deafening



excessively louddeafening music
Derived Formsdeafeningly, adverb



(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 deafening

"very loud," 1590s, from present participle of deafen (q.v.). Deafening silence is attested by 1830.



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

deafening in Medicine




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.