• synonyms


adjective, numb·er, numb·est.
  1. deprived of physical sensation or the ability to move: fingers numb with cold.
  2. manifesting or resembling numbness: a numb sensation.
  3. incapable of action or of feeling emotion; enervated; prostrate: numb with grief.
  4. lacking or deficient in emotion or feeling; indifferent: She was numb to their pleas for mercy.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make numb.
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Origin of numb

1400–50; late Middle English nome literally, taken, seized, variant of nomen, numen, Old English numen, past participle of niman to take, nim1
Related formsnumb·ly, adverbnumb·ness, nounhalf-numb, adjectiveun·numbed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for numbly

Historical Examples of numbly

  • Numbly he recognized the countenances which were turned toward him.

    Beyond the Black River

    Robert E. Howard

  • Numbly the thought came to her of how long she had waited for this.

    Rich Man, Poor Man

    Maximilian Foster

  • Numbly they followed on—Dor and Jon and Jak and the two youngsters.

    The Forgotten Planet

    Murray Leinster

  • Her eyes vacant and numbly fixed, she rose slowly to her feet.

    The Wolf Cub

    Patrick Casey

  • A standby pattern lighted the screen, and I stared at it numbly.


    Winston Marks

British Dictionary definitions for numbly


  1. deprived of feeling through cold, shock, etc
  2. unable to move; paralysed
  3. characteristic of or resembling numbnessa numb sensation
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verb (tr)
  1. to make numb; deaden, shock, or paralyse
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Derived Formsnumbly, adverbnumbness, noun

Word Origin for numb

C15: nomen, literally: taken (with paralysis), from Old English niman to take; related to Old Norse nema, Old High German niman
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 numbly



1550s, from numb (adj.). Related: Numbed; numbing.

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c.1400, nome, "deprived of motion or feeling," literally "taken, seized," from past participle of nimen "to take, seize," from Old English niman "to take, catch, grasp" (see nimble). The extraneous -b (to conform to comb, limb, etc.) appeared 17c. The notion is of being "taken" with palsy, shock, and especially cold. Figurative use from 1560s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

numbly in Medicine


  1. Being unable or only partially able to feel sensation or pain; deadened or anesthetized.
  2. Being emotionally unresponsive; indifferent.
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  1. To make or become numb.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.