adjective, dumb·er, dumb·est.
- (of a barge) without means of propulsion.
- (of any craft) without means of propulsion, steering, or signaling.
Origin of dumb
Examples from the Web for dumbness
This is not dumbness, or denseness, or illiteracy, but belligerent unenlightenment.
Now she perceived his condition of terrible excitement and that his dumbness had not been the apathy she fancied.A Man's Hearth|Eleanor M. Ingram
He remembered how he had been shocked to dumbness years before when someone in the neighborhood had died.Spring Street|James H. Richardson
Sarah did not blame her teachers for her breaking down; in her opinion it was her own natural "dumbness."When Sarah Went to School|Elsie Singmaster
One of the synonyms of infantile remittent was an acute fever with dumbness.A History of Epidemics in Britain, Volume II (of 2)|Charles Creighton
He himself was more boisterous than usual, as if to cover up the dumbness of his wife.Clark's Field|Robert Herrick
British Dictionary definitions for dumbness
- slow to understand; dim-witted
- foolish; stupidSee also dumb down
Word Origin for dumb
Word Origin and History for dumbness
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.