\ 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

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

Somewhere along the line, my gray got more resistant, and the once occasional highlights gave way to single-process all-over color, which looked dull and fake but was more affordable and offered more coverage. Jessica Berger Gross, Longreads, "Gone Gray," 10 July 2018 Digital zoom just crops and enlarges the photo, making your photo look fuzzy and dull. Wired Staff, WIRED, "How to Take Awesome Photos of Fireworks," 3 July 2018 Still, watching the breakdown happen was alternately wrenching and dull. The Atlantic, "Westworld: Who Cares About the Man in Black?," 17 June 2018 The leaves can also be shiny or dull and the edges of the leaves may be smooth or toothed. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy," 4 June 2018 Salads, turns out, don't have to be so predictable and dull. Ellise Pierce, star-telegram, "Disguise the greens to beat boring salads this summer," 31 May 2018 For years, the pace of new product introductions was glacial at Tiffany, feeding an image of the jewelry being static and dull. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Tiffany's Turnaround Plan Is Turning Out to Be a Gem," 23 May 2018 But instead of dwelling on the height of addiction, the astonishingly vulnerable, raw Patrick Melrose is largely committed to exploring the duller but more important work of recovery. Sonia Saraiya, HWD, "Review: Benedict Cumberbatch Shines as Drug-Addled Aristocrat Patrick Melrose," 9 May 2018 The recognizable plink occurs only when a water droplet lands in water; a drop landing on a dry, wooden surface leaves only a dull thud. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "Here’s What Makes a Dripping Faucet Go ‘Plink’," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The stock dulled as the new business took longer than expected to launch, but regained its aura after Ambani announced the pricing for telecom services last year. Fortune, "8 Things to Know About Mukesh Ambani, Asia's Newest Richest Man," 13 July 2018 What might dull this story’s shine is Adyen’s overreliance on a handful of customers that could leave it relatively easily. Paul J. Davies, WSJ, "Silicon Valley’s Favorite Payments Company Cashes In," 5 June 2018 Margo is sharp-tongued like all Cody heroines, but dulled in demeanor by postpartum depression and sheer exhaustion from caring for a newborn with minimal help from her husband (Ron Livingston). Carla Meyer, San Francisco Chronicle, "Charlize Theron jokes around, discusses career and new film ‘Tully’ at SFFilm Festival," 9 Apr. 2018 The suspects also allegedly took steps to conceal their activities, installing soundproofing materials that dulled the noise of the pulley system, according to the South China Morning Post. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "Gangs used drones and pulleys to smuggle $80 million in smartphones from Hong Kong, officials say," 2 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, a shortage of driving schools for women, the high cost of classes and Saudi authorities’ alleged intimidation of women who campaigned for the right to drive have dulled some of the initial euphoria. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, "Saudi women on motorcycles signal new road ahead for the kingdom," 3 May 2018 Is the attraction that of having sensations heightened or dulled, a dose of uppers for the ears, or downers? Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Becoming John Luther Adams: The evolution of one of America's hottest composers," 3 May 2018 Along parts of South Florida's Atlantic coast, mounds of seaweed known as sargassum have been pushed ashore by strong winds and ocean currents, dulling the water and coating beaches. Jennifer Kay, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Blue-green algae, red tide soil beaches, threaten Florida tourism," 10 July 2018 Ocasio-Cortez’s win has not yet dulled that disrespect, said Lears. Yohana Desta, HWD, "The Establishment Didn’t Think Ocasio-Cortez Could Win—But This Documentary Filmmaker Did," 29 June 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

11 Sep 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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Comments on dull

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