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See more synonyms for numb on Thesaurus.com
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

Related Words for numbness

apathy, paralysis, insensibility, stupor, stupefaction, dullness, anesthesia, insensitivity

Examples from the Web for numbness

Contemporary Examples of numbness

Historical Examples of numbness

  • He had intermittent periods of numbness in the lower half of his body.

  • "It's there you are a fool," she said, moved actually now by his numbness to his own endowment.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • I am widowed; and the first numbness of the unexpected shock has not left me yet.

    The Genius

    Margaret Horton Potter

  • He was waiting until the first numbness of the shock had passed.

    The Grell Mystery

    Frank Froest

  • He had a gone feeling at the pit of the stomach, and suffered from faintness and numbness.

    Lost Face

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for numbness


  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 numbness


1570s, from numb (adj.) + -ness.

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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

numbness 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.