Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective \ˈdəm\

Definition of dumb

  1. 1 a :  lacking the human power of speech <dumb animals> b of a person often offensive :  lacking the ability to speak

  2. 2 :  temporarily unable to speak (as from shock or astonishment) <struck dumb with fear>

  3. 3 :  not expressed in uttered words <dumb grief>

  4. 4 :  silent; also :  taciturn

  5. 5 :  lacking some usual attribute or accompaniment; especially :  having no means of self-propulsion <a dumb barge>

  6. 6 a :  lacking intelligence :  stupid b :  showing a lack of intelligence <asking dumb questions> c :  requiring no intelligence <dumb luck>

  7. 7 :  not having the capability to process data <a dumb terminal> — compare intelligent 3a

dumbly play \ˈdəm-lē\ adverb
dumbness noun

Usage Discussion of dumb

There is evidence that, when applied to persons who cannot speak, dumb has come to be considered offensive.

Examples of dumb in a sentence

  1. I'm not dumb enough to believe that.

  2. It was a dumb idea in the first place.

  3. He just stood there with a dumb grin on his face.

  4. This is one of the dumbest TV shows I've ever seen.

  5. It was dumb luck that we found this place at all.

  6. His success is just a matter of dumb luck.

  7. He was born deaf and dumb.

Origin of dumb

Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German tumb mute

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of dumb

stupid, dull, dense, crass, dumb mean lacking in power to absorb ideas or impressions. stupid implies a slow-witted or dazed state of mind that may be either congenital or temporary <stupid students just keeping the seats warm> <stupid with drink>. dull suggests a slow or sluggish mind such as results from disease, depression, or shock <monotonous work that leaves the mind dull>. dense implies a thickheaded imperviousness to ideas <too dense to take a hint>. crass suggests a grossness of mind precluding discrimination or delicacy <a crass, materialistic people>. dumb applies to an exasperating obtuseness or lack of comprehension <too dumb to figure out what's going on>.

Rhymes with dumb




Definition of dumb

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to make silent :  deaden <would lie around, dumbed by the drugs — Norman Mailer>

Examples of dumb in a sentence

  1. <the terrible news dumbed her for a long moment, and then she burst into tears>


First Known Use of dumb


DUMB Defined for Kids


adjective \ˈdəm\

Definition of dumb for Students


  1. 1 :  lacking the power of human speech <dumb animals>

  2. 2 often offensive :  lacking the ability to speak Hint: In the past, this word was not considered offensive when used in this way. In recent years, however, many people have come to find it hurtful, and you may offend someone by using it.

  3. 3 :  temporarily unable to speak (as from shock or surprise)

  4. 4 :  stupid 1, foolish <There are no dumb questions.>

dumbly adverb

Medical Dictionary


adjective \ˈdəm\

Medical Definition of dumb

  1. 1:  lacking the human power of speech <dumb animals>

  2. 2of a person often offensive :  lacking the ability to speak

dumbly \ˈdəm-lē\play adverb
dumbness noun

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up dumb? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to dishevel or rumple

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

perplex soothe disapprove reduce
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.