(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)
- To silence.
- To make stupid.
- To represent as stupid.
- To reduce the intellectual demands of.
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”).