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Webster 1913 Edition


Dumb

Dumb

(dŭm)
,
Adj.
[AS.
dumb
; akin to D.
dom
stupid, dumb, Sw.
dumb
, Goth.
dumbs
; cf. Gr. [GREEK] blind. See
Deaf
, and cf.
Dummy
.]
1.
Destitute of the power of speech; unable; to utter articulate sounds;
as, the
dumb
brutes
.
To unloose the very tongues even of
dumb
creatures.
Hooker.
2.
Not willing to speak; mute; silent; not speaking; not accompanied by words;
as,
dumb
show
.
This spirit,
dumb
to us, will speak to him.
Shakespeare
To pierce into the
dumb
past.
J. C. Shairp.
3.
Lacking brightness or clearness, as a color.
[R.]
Her stern was painted of a
dumb
white or dun color.
De Foe.
Syn. – Silent; speechless; noiseless. See
Mute
.

Dumb

,
Verb.
T.
To put to silence.
[Obs.]
Shak.

Webster 1828 Edition


Dumb

DUMB

,
Adj.
Dum.
1.
Mute; silent; not speaking.
I was dumb with silence; I held my peace. Psalm 34.
2.
Destitute of the power of speech; unable to utter articulate sounds; as the dumb brutes. The asylum at Hartford in Connecticut was the first institution in America for teaching the deaf and dumb to read and write.
3.
Mute; not using or accompanied with speech; as a dumb show; dumb signs.
To strike dumb, is to confound; to astonish; to render silent by astonishment; or it may be, to deprive of the power of speech.

DUMB

,
Verb.
T.
To silence.

Definition 2021


dumb

dumb

English

Adjective

dumb (comparative dumber, superlative dumbest)

  1. (perhaps somewhat dated) Unable to speak; lacking power of speech.
    His younger brother was born dumb, and communicated with sign language.
    • Hooker
      to unloose the very tongues even of dumb creatures
  2. (dated) Silent; unaccompanied by words.
    dumb show
    • Shakespeare
      This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
    • 1788 November 17, Mary Wollstonecraft, chapter 2, in Original Stories from Real Life (Children's literature), 1796 printing edition, London: J. Johnson, page 10–11:
      The country people frequently ſay,—How can you treat a poor dumb beaſt ill; and a ſtreſs is very properly laid on the word dumb; for dumb they appear to thoſe who do not obſerve their looks and geſtures; but God, who takes care of every thing, underſtands their language...
    • J. C. Shairp
      to pierce into the dumb past
  3. (informal, pejorative, especially of a person) extremely stupid.
    You are so dumb! You don't even know how to make toast!
  4. (figuratively) Pointless, foolish, lacking intellectual content or value.
    This is dumb! We're driving in circles! We should have asked for directions an hour ago!
    Brendan had the dumb job of moving boxes from one conveyor belt to another.
  5. Lacking brightness or clearness, as a colour.
    • De Foe
      Her stern was painted of a dumb white or dun color.
Synonyms
Derived terms
Translations

Etymology 2

From Middle English dumbien, from Old English dumbian (more commonly in compound ādumbian (to become mute or dumb; keep silence; hold one’s peace)), from Proto-Germanic *dumbijaną, *dumbōną (to be silent, become dumb), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeubʰ- (to whisk, smoke, darken, obscure). Cognate with German verdummen (to become dumb).

Verb

dumb (third-person singular simple present dumbs, present participle dumbing, simple past and past participle dumbed)

  1. To silence.
    • 1911, Lindsay Swift, William Lloyd Garrison, p. 272,
      The paralysis of the Northern conscience, the dumbing of the Northern voice, were coming to an end.
  2. (transitive) To make stupid.
    • 2003, Angela Calabrese Barton, Teaching Science for Social Justice, p. 124,
      I think she's dumbing us down, so we won't be smarter than her.
  3. (transitive) To represent as stupid.
    • 2004, Stephen Oppenheimer, The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey Out of Africa, p. 107,
      Bad-mouthing Neanderthals . . . is symptomatic of a need to exclude and even demonize. . . . I suggest that the unproven dumbing of the Neanderthals is an example of the same cultural preconception.
  4. (transitive) To reduce the intellectual demands of.
    • 2002, Deborah Meier, In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing, p. 126,
      The ensuing storm caused the department to lower the bar—amid protests that this was dumbing the test down—so that only 80 percent of urban kids would fail.
Derived terms