transitive verb dumbed
a. Lacking the power of speech. Used of animals and inanimate objects.
b. Often Offensive
Incapable of using speech; mute. Used of humans. See Usage Note at mute
- Temporarily speechless, as with shock or fear: I was dumb with disbelief.
- Unwilling to speak; taciturn.
- Not expressed or articulated in sounds or words: dumb resentment.
- Nautical Not self-propelling.
- Conspicuously unintelligent; stupid: dumb officials; a dumb decision.
- Unintentional; haphazard: dumb luck.
To make silent or dumb.Phrasal Verb: dumb down/up Slang
To rewrite for a less educated or less sophisticated audience.
Origin: Middle English
Origin: , from Old English
Related Forms:Our Living Language
In ordinary spoken English, a sentence such as He is dumb
will be interpreted to mean “He is stupid” rather than “He lacks the power of speech.” “Lacking the power of speech” is, however, the original sense of the word, but it has been eclipsed by the meaning “stupid.” For this change in meaning, it appears that the Germans are responsible. German has a similar and related word dumm
that means “stupid,” and over time, as a result of the waves of German immigrants to the United States, it has come to influence the meaning of English dumb.
This is one of dozens of marks left by German on American English. Some words, like kindergarten, dachshund,
still have a German feel or are associated to some extent with Germany, but others, like bum, cookbook, fresh
(in the meaning “impertinent”), rifle,
have become so thoroughly Americanized their German origins may surprise some.