a gymnastic apparatus consisting of two wooden or metal balls connected by a short bar serving as a handle, used as a weight for exercising.
a stupid person.

Origin of dumbbell

First recorded in 1705–15; dumb + bell1

Synonyms for dumbbell

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for dumbbell

dummy, dunce, dullard, idiot, moron, ignoramus, simpleton, dolt, dodo, dumdum, dumbo

Examples from the Web for dumbbell

Historical Examples of dumbbell

  • It's nice to feel she isn't being wasted on some dumbbell, isn't it?

  • I was taken aboard one of their dumbbell ships, and brought here.

    The Secret of the Ninth Planet

    Donald Allen Wollheim

  • But a woman is at once given away: she look like a dumbbell run over by an express train.

    In Defense of Women

    H. L. Mencken

  • The next day he calmly chose the seat in front of the dumbbell—and proceeded to write a perfect examination.

    The Plastic Age

    Percy Marks

  • It was something like a dumbbell, covered with marine growth where it had been above the sand, but fairly smooth under it.

    The Wailing Octopus

    Harold Leland Goodwin

British Dictionary definitions for dumbbell



gymnastics weightlifting an exercising weight consisting of a single bar with a heavy ball or disc at either end
a small wooden object shaped like this used in dog training for the dog to retrieve
slang, mainly US and Canadian a fool
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 dumbbell

"weighted bar used for exercise," 1711, originally an apparatus like that used to ring a church bell, but without the bell (hence dumb); used for exercise but sometimes also to practice ringing changes. Figurative sense of "blockhead, stupid person" attested by 1918, American English college slang.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper