\ˈdəl \

Definition of dull 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : tedious, uninteresting dull lectures

2 : lacking sharpness of edge or point a dull knife

3a : not resonant or ringing a dull booming sound

b : lacking in force, intensity, or sharpness a dull ache

4 : lacking brilliance or luster a dull finish

5 : cloudy dull weather

6 of a color : low in saturation (see saturation sense 4a) and low in lightness a dull green

7 : mentally slow : stupid

8a : slow in perception or sensibility : insensible somewhat dull of hearing dull to what went on about her— Willa Cather

b : lacking zest (see zest sense 2) or vivacity : listless a dull performance

9 : slow in action : sluggish dull markets



Definition of dull (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make dull dull a knife's edge

intransitive verb

: to become dull The blade dulled with use.

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Other Words from dull


dullness or less commonly dulness \ˈdəl-​nəs \ noun
dully \ˈdə(l)-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for dull

Synonyms: Adjective

blunt, blunted, dulled, obtuse

Synonyms: Verb

benumb, blunt, cauterize, damp, dampen, deaden, numb

Antonyms: Adjective

cutting, edged, edgy, ground, honed, keen, pointed, sharp, sharpened, whetted

Antonyms: Verb

sharpen, whet

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Choose the Right Synonym for dull


dull, blunt, obtuse mean not sharp, keen, or acute. dull suggests a lack or loss of keenness, zest, or pungency. a dull pain a dull mind blunt suggests an inherent lack of sharpness or quickness of feeling or perception. a person of blunt sensibility obtuse implies such bluntness as makes one insensitive in perception or imagination. too obtuse to take the hint

synonyms see in addition stupid

Examples of dull in a Sentence


the dull roar of the crowd the dull knife just bounced off the skin of the tomato without cutting it


Fog dulled the morning sunlight. Special earplugs dulled the sound of the chain saw. His hair dulled as he aged. The dog's eyes dulled as he got sick. She takes medicine to dull the pain. Fear dulled his need for adventure. The knife was dulled from use. The blade should be replaced as soon as it dulls.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Packed with pumpkin spice, a hint of molasses, and marshmallow cream, these Halloween cookies are anything but dull. Alexis Jones, Redbook, "The Best Halloween Food Ideas for Your Adult Gathering," 2 Aug. 2018 Merging standard gangster movie clichés of both the Japanese and American variety, The Outsider only manages to be ultra-violent and ultra-dull simultaneously. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Outsider': Film Review," 8 Mar. 2018 The Raiders must find a way to better protect Carr, but part of this boils down to play-calling and an overall scheme that is, frankly, dull to watch. Seattle Times Sports Staff, The Seattle Times, "What the (inter)national media are saying about the Seahawks’ 27-3 trouncing of the Oakland Raiders," 15 Oct. 2018 Unfortunately, the effects of floating in the Dead Sea only lasted about two days before my jetlagged skin reared its dull and lifeless head. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why the Dead Sea Should Be at the Top of Every Beauty Junkie's Travel List," 5 Sep. 2018 Its detriments range from inefficient land use, to environmental damage from reliance on automobiles, to dull and repetitious housing stock. Anthony Alofsin, The Atlantic, "A Defense of the Suburbs," 6 June 2018 Campsite Care Garden Gems Custom Regimen Master Moisturizer Air travel can suck the moisture out of your skin and hair, leaving both looking dull and dehydrated. Allison Young, Sunset, "10 Best Travel Beauty Kits," 22 Jan. 2018 Our favorite affordable chef's knife Any novice chef will know that a dull, cheap knife will lead to more work or worse, a cut finger. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "These are the 5 Amazon deals you can get before the weekend," 13 Apr. 2018 Noise Level From thunderous in the bar to a dull roar in the dining room. New York Times, "It’s Not Fake French, It’s Frenchette," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But Guterres also noted that America’s dulling shine isn’t just about its own actions. Alex Ward, Vox, "America’s declining power, in one quote," 14 Sep. 2018 In either of these instances, your ears might feel all clogged up, which can dull sound and cause discomfort or pain. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "7 Ear Problems That Can Mess With Your Summer," 18 Aug. 2018 Andrews, in his writings, laments how the automobile will dull the romance of the Gobi, and a part of me agrees the moment our tires touch pavement. Jason Harper, Condé Nast Traveler, "On the Hunt for Dinosaur Bones in the Gobi Desert," 20 July 2018 Franco gave him the Mutumbo finger just in time, but the content of his speech was already dulled by Wiseau’s presence. Jake Kring-schreifels, Esquire, "The Best, Worst, and Most Empowering Moments of the 2018 Golden Globes," 8 Jan. 2018 Others' losses include arms torn off by industrial accidents or improvised bombs, and senses dulled or snuffed out by disease. Erik Sofge, Popular Mechanics, "Smart Bionic Limbs are Reengineering the Human," 28 May 2012 That film can dull your razor, not to mention add a barrier to a close shave. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Beauty Vlogger Jessie B Uses Olive Oil to Shave Her Bikini Line, But Is It Safe?," 12 June 2018 My phone, dulled from Candy Crush, would be dying soon. Reyhan Harmanci, The Cut, "Pre-Baby Maternity Leave Is the Strangest Vacation," 2 Apr. 2018 Originally, Liverpool had reportedly been favourites to sign the Brazilian shot stopper, only to have their interest dulled slightly by high asking prices. SI.com, "Roma Director Confirms 'No Bids Have Been Made' for Chelsea, Liverpool & Real Madrid Target," 8 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dull.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dull


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 7


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for dull


Middle English dul; akin to Old English dol foolish, Old Irish dall blind


see dull entry 1

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Statistics for dull

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dull

The first known use of dull was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for dull



English Language Learners Definition of dull

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not exciting or interesting

: having an edge or point that is not sharp

of a sound : not clear and loud



English Language Learners Definition of dull (Entry 2 of 2)

: to become or cause (something) to become less clear, distinct, bright, or shiny

: to make (something, such as a feeling) less sharp, strong, or severe

: to become or cause (something, such as a knife or blade) to become less sharp


\ˈdəl \
duller; dullest

Kids Definition of dull

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not sharp in edge or point : blunt a dull knife

2 : not shiny or bright The old trophy had a dull finish.

3 : not interesting : boring a dull movie

4 : not clear and ringing a dull sound

5 : not sharp or intense I have a dull ache in my arm.

6 : slightly grayish a dull red

7 : cloudy sense 1, overcast a dull sky

8 : slow in understanding things : not smart

9 : without energy or spirit She was feeling dull.

10 : slow in action : sluggish Business was dull.

Other Words from dull

dullness noun
dully adverb


dulled; dulling

Kids Definition of dull (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make or become less sharp, bright, or intense Medicine dulled the pain.


\ˈdəl \

Medical Definition of dull 

1 : mentally slow or stupid

2 : slow in perception or sensibility

3 : lacking sharpness of edge or point a dull scalpel

4 : lacking in force, intensity, or acuteness a dull pain

Other Words from dull

dull verb
dullness or dulness \ˈdəl-​nəs \ noun
dully \ˈdəl-​ē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on dull

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dull

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dull

Spanish Central: Translation of dull

Nglish: Translation of dull for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dull for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dull

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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