be·​numb bi-ˈnəm How to pronounce benumb (audio)
benumbed; benumbing; benumbs

transitive verb

: to make inactive : deaden
: to make numb especially by cold

Examples of benumb in a Sentence

a succession of personal tragedies had benumbed him to all grief
Recent Examples on the Web Because both actors look like lumpish proletarian versions of Ingmar Bergman stars — Alma Pöysti, radiant yet benumbed, plays Ansa like a dish-towel Bibi Andersson, and Jussi Vatanen could be the schlump brother of Max von Sydow (with a dollop of Ryan Gosling). Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 23 May 2023 What’s destructive, and eventually benumbing, is the kitchen-sink clutter of fantasy, reality, wish-fulfillment and glib enchantment. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 24 Jan. 2019 But her core insight into how even mediocrities can be institutionally benumbed and conscripted into heinous projects remains fertile. George Prochnik, New York Times, 12 Apr. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'benumb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English benomen, from benomen, past participle of benimen to deprive, from Old English beniman, from be- + niman to take — more at nimble

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of benumb was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near benumb

Cite this Entry

“Benumb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​numb bi-ˈnəm How to pronounce benumb (audio)
: to make numb especially by cold

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