See more synonyms for dull on Thesaurus.com
adjective, dull·er, dull·est.
  1. not sharp; blunt: a dull knife.
  2. causing boredom; tedious; uninteresting: a dull sermon.
  3. not lively or spirited; listless.
  4. not bright, intense, or clear; dim: a dull day; a dull sound.
  5. having very little depth of color; lacking in richness or intensity of color.
  6. slow in motion or action; not brisk; sluggish: a dull day in the stock market.
  7. mentally slow; lacking brightness of mind; somewhat stupid; obtuse.
  8. lacking keenness of perception in the senses or feelings; insensible; unfeeling.
  9. not intense or acute: a dull pain.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or become dull.

Origin of dull

1200–50; Middle English; akin to Old English dol foolish, stupid; cognate with German toll
Related formsdull·ness, dul·ness, noundul·ly, adverbun·dulled, adjective

Synonyms for dull

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Synonym study

1. Dull, blunt refer to the edge or point of an instrument, tool, or the like. Dull implies a lack or a loss of keenness or sharpness: a dull razor or saw. Blunt may mean the same or may refer to an edge or point not intended to be keen or sharp: a blunt or stub pen; a blunt foil. 7. Dull, blunt, slow, stupid are applied to mental qualities. Dull implies obtuseness, lack of imagination: a dull child. Blunt implies loss of original keenness of intelligence through disease, sad experience, or the like: His critical faculties were blunt. Slow applies to a sluggish intellect: a slow mind. Stupid implies slowness of mental processes, but also lack of intelligence, wisdom, prudence, etc.: a stupid person.

Antonyms for dull

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dulling

Contemporary Examples of dulling

Historical Examples of dulling

  • I should merely be dulling your appetite, without satisfying your hunger.

  • There is a pathetic reference in a letter to this dulling of his power of vision.


    Margrieta Beer

  • A look of fright and joy came into Mrs. Vincent's dulling eyes.

    Margaret Vincent

    Sophia Lucy Clifford

  • And with it a damping of her ardor, and a dulling of the fine edge of her enthusiasm.

    Carmen Ariza

    Charles Francis Stocking

  • There came a louder clamor—volcanic, chaotic, dulling the thunders.

British Dictionary definitions for dulling


  1. slow to think or understand; stupid
  2. lacking in interest
  3. lacking in perception or the ability to respond; insensitive
  4. lacking sharpness; blunt
  5. not acute, intense, or piercing
  6. (of weather) not bright or clear; cloudy
  7. not active, busy, or brisk
  8. lacking in spirit or animation; listless
  9. (of colour) lacking brilliance or brightness; sombre
  10. not loud or clear; muffled
  11. med (of sound elicited by percussion, esp of the chest) not resonant
  1. to make or become dull
Derived Formsdullish, adjectivedullness or dulness, noundully, adverb

Word Origin for dull

Old English dol; related to Old Norse dul conceit, Old High German tol foolish, Greek tholeros confused
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 dulling



c.1200, "stupid;" early 13c., "blunt, not sharp;" rare before mid-14c., apparently from Old English dol "dull-witted, foolish," or an unrecorded parallel word, or from Middle Low German dul "slow-witted," both from Proto-Germanic *dulaz (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon dol "foolish," Old High German tol, German toll "mad, wild," Gothic dwals "foolish"), from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, vapor, smoke" (and related notions of "defective perception or wits"). Of color from early 15c.; of pain or other sensations from 1725. Sense of "boring" first recorded 1580s.

dull. (8) Not exhilarating; not delightful; as to make dictionaries is dull work. [Johnson]

Dullsville, slang for "town where nothing happens," attested from 1960.



c.1200, "to grow weary, tire;" of pointed or edged things from c.1400; of the senses from 1550s; from dull (adj.). Related: Dulled; dulling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

dulling in Medicine


  1. Lacking responsiveness or alertness; insensitive.
  2. Not intensely or keenly felt, as in pain.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with dulling


In addition to the idiom beginning with dull

  • dull as dishwater

also see:

  • never a dull moment
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.