View synonyms for dumb


[ duhm ]


, dumb·er, dumb·est.
  1. lacking intelligence or good judgment; stupid; dull-witted.
  2. lacking the power of speech (offensive when applied to humans):

    a dumb animal.

  3. temporarily unable to speak:

    dumb with astonishment.

  4. refraining from any or much speech; silent.
  5. made, done, etc., without speech.
  6. lacking some usual property, characteristic, etc.
  7. performed in pantomime; mimed.
  8. Computers. pertaining to the inability to do processing locally: Compare intelligent ( def 4 ).

    A dumb terminal can input, output, and display data, but cannot process it.

  9. Nautical.
    1. (of a barge) without means of propulsion.
    2. (of any craft) without means of propulsion, steering, or signaling.

verb phrase

  1. Informal. to make or become less intellectual, simpler, or less sophisticated:

    to dumb down a textbook; American movies have dumbed down.


/ dʌm /


  1. lacking the power to speak, either because of defects in the vocal organs or because of hereditary deafness
  2. lacking the power of human speech

    dumb animals

  3. temporarily lacking or bereft of the power to speak

    struck dumb

  4. refraining from speech; uncommunicative
  5. producing no sound; silent

    a dumb piano

  6. made, done, or performed without speech
  7. informal.
    1. slow to understand; dim-witted
    2. foolish; stupid See also dumb down
  8. (of a projectile or bomb) not guided to its target

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Sensitive Note

Dumb in the sense “lacking the power of speech” is perceived as insulting when describing humans (but not animals), probably because dumb also means “stupid; dull-witted.” The noun dummy in the sense “person who lacks the power of speech” is also perceived as insulting, as are the terms deaf-and-dumb, deaf-mute, and mute. The adjective hard of hearing is acceptable though not the term of choice, partly because it lacks directness. The preferred term is deaf, which makes no reference to an inability to speak or communicate; the capitalized word Deaf signals membership in this community.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈdumbness, noun
  • ˈdumbly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • dumb·ly adverb
  • dumb·ness noun
  • qua·si-dumb adjective
  • qua·si-dumb·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of dumb1

First recorded before 1000; Old English; cognate with Old Norse dumbr, Gothic dumbs, Old Saxon dumb, Old High German tump, German dumm

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Word History and Origins

Origin of dumb1

Old English; related to Old Norse dumbr, Gothic dumbs, Old High German tump

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Example Sentences

Law enforcement really just said, “You know, this is a dumb woman, and she’s the only one that got screwed over, and it’s just not that important.”

From Vox

It seems dumb to walk away from something I’m relatively successful at when I’m not qualified to do anything else, especially right now.

In some ways, paintings portraits is really dumb and painting portraits of hundreds of people is ridiculous.

The dumbest way ever to secretly benefit a campaign contributor is to buy a building with that contributor’s name on it.

You’ll probably think this question is dumber than dumb, a waste of neurons.

However, not all awful, astoundingly dumb political memes are created equal.

“Which proves he is as dumb as a bag of hammers,” the official says.

Does it matter whether Taylor Swift wants me to inflate my Internet notoriety by doing a dumb thing where I lip sync to her music?

The way I film is based on the assumption that the audience is as smart and dumb as I am.

I thought I was going to have to dumb it down for this folk-pop singer.

The sound of my step shall make your heart jump; a look from me shall make you dumb for an hour.

Her female friend immediately said, "Well, I have been talking away to this dumb man."

Sometimes dumb-bells, compact sheaves of fine needles, and irregular rhizome forms are seen (Fig. 40).

They ain't noways dumb to each other, I notice; an' we air dumb aourselves when we air ketched with furriners.

His watchmen are all blind, they are all ignorant: dumb dogs not able to bark, seeing vain things, sleeping and loving dreams.


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