- lacking intelligence or good judgment; stupid; dull-witted.
- lacking the power of speech (offensive when applied to humans): a dumb animal.
- temporarily unable to speak: dumb with astonishment.
- refraining from any or much speech; silent.
- made, done, etc., without speech.
- lacking some usual property, characteristic, etc.
- performed in pantomime; mimed.
- Computers. pertaining to the inability to do processing locally: A dumb terminal can input, output, and display data, but cannot process it.Compare intelligent(def 4).
- (of a barge) without means of propulsion.
- (of any craft) without means of propulsion, steering, or signaling.
- dumb down, Informal. to make or become less intellectual, simpler, or less sophisticated: to dumb down a textbook; American movies have dumbed down.
Origin of dumb
- (tr) to make or become less intellectually demanding or sophisticatedattempts to dumb down news coverage
- lacking the power to speak, either because of defects in the vocal organs or because of hereditary deafness
- lacking the power of human speechdumb animals
- temporarily lacking or bereft of the power to speakstruck dumb
- refraining from speech; uncommunicative
- producing no sound; silenta dumb piano
- made, done, or performed without speech
- slow to understand; dim-witted
- foolish; stupidSee also dumb down
- (of a projectile or bomb) not guided to its target
Word Origin for dumb
Old English dumb "silent, unable to speak," from PIE *dheubh- "confusion, stupefaction, dizziness," from root *dheu- (1) "dust, mist, vapor, smoke," and related notions of "defective perception or wits."
The Old English, Old Saxon (dumb), Gothic (dumbs), and Old Norse (dumbr) forms of the word meant only "mute, speechless;" in Old High German (thumb) it meant both this and "stupid," and in Modern German this latter became the only sense. Meaning "foolish, ignorant" was occasionally in Middle English, but modern use (1823) comes from influence of German dumm. Related: dumber; dumbest.
Applied to silent contrivances, hence dumbwaiter. As a verb, in late Old English, "to become mute;" c.1600, "to make mute." To dumb (something) down is from 1933.