- An example of dumb is the voice of an animal which does not include words.
- An example of dumb is what you might call a decision that was made based on the wrong assumptions.
- lacking the power of speech; mute: now regarded as offensive
- unwilling to talk; silent
- not accompanied by speech
- temporarily speechless, as from fear
- producing no sound
- lacking some normal part, characteristic, or quality
Origin of dumbGer dummInformal stupid; moronic
- completely undirected by intelligence or foresight: dumb luck
- Comput. incapable of some independent functioning because not equipped with a microprocessor or computer: a dumb computer terminalcontrasted with intelligent (sense ) and smart (adjective)
Origin of dumbMiddle English and OE, akin to German dumm (Goth dumbs), mute, stupid from nasalized variant, variety of Indo-European an unverified form dheubh from base an unverified form dheu-: see dull
- a. Lacking the power of speech. Used of animals and inanimate objects.b. 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.
transitive verbdumbed, dumb·ing, dumbs
Origin of dumbMiddle English from Old English
(comparative dumber, superlative dumbest)
- Unable to speak; lacking power of speech.
- His younger brother was born dumb, and communicated with sign language.
- Silent; unaccompanied by words.
- dumb show
- (informal, pejorative, especially of a person) extremely stupid.
- You are so dumb! You don't even know how to make toast!
- (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.
- Lacking brightness or clearness, as a colour.
From Middle English dumb, from Old English dumb (“silent, silent, speechless, mute, unable to speak”), from Proto-Germanic *dumbaz (“dull, dumb”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeubʰ- (“to whisk, smoke, darken, obscure”). Cognate with Scots dumb (“dumb, silent”), North Frisian dom, domme (“dumb, stupid”), West Frisian dom (“dumb, stupid”), Dutch dom (“dumb, stupid”), German dumm (“dumb, stupid”), Swedish dum (“stupid”), Icelandic dumbur (“dumb, mute”).
In ordinary spoken English, a phrase like "He is dumb" is interpreted as "He is stupid" rather than "He lacks the power of speech". The latter example, however, is the original sense of the word. The senses of stupid, unintellectual, and pointless developed under the influence of the German word dumm (which itself derives from Old High German tumb).
(third-person singular simple present dumbs, present participle dumbing, simple past and past participle dumbed)
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 *dumbēną, *dumbōną (“to be silent, become dumb”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeubʰ- (“to whisk, smoke, darken, obscure”). Cognate with German dummen (“to become dumb”).