\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

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 Tesla is clearly getting better at producing cars, but a look at the entire quarterly output should keep any celebration to a dull roar. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Tesla’s Big Number Doesn’t Solve Its Problems," 2 July 2018 Too often, her cast keep their patter at the same dull roar. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "Young womanhood sopping wet with bodily fluids in Shotgun’s ‘Dry Land’," 31 May 2018 The feeling could be sharp, dull or the sensation that an elephant is sitting on your chest. NBC News, "What is a heart attack? The symptoms you need to know," 12 Apr. 2018 Sometimes stories about the economy and trade can be too obscure or dull. The Christian Science Monitor, "Readers write: Mothers and forgiveness, reality of homelessness, how ‘Black Panther’ affects Africans, tariffs explained for average reader, high taxes vs. life choices," 26 May 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Neither has Ross, aside from the hard-biting slider that remained an elite weapon until a two-start hiccup dulled some of the shine of his return to San Diego. Jeff Sanders, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres' Tyson Ross looking to get back on track vs. Dodgers," 12 July 2018 On the other hand, this acceptance could fall into complacency, dulling the importance of the movement given the ongoing issues still facing the community and cloaking the history of resistance that helped achieve that acceptance in the first place. Ashley Wong, USA TODAY, "Gay Pride parades used to mean protests. Now they're an excuse for straight kids to party," 22 June 2018 Turns out, changes in air pressure can mess with our tastebuds, dulling sweetness and saltiness. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Things We Only Ever Eat and Drink on Planes," 16 May 2018 Painkillers disrupt the body's efforts to relay nerve signals to the brain, dulling the subsequent discomfort. Daisy Yuhas, Scientific American, "Forget Pills and Surgery for Back Pain," 1 Oct. 2017 Clinique's Oil Control Mattifying Moisturizer will hydrate your skin to keep it healthy, while the matte finish will dull the shine to keep you from looking like James Brown mid-concert. Esquire Editors, Esquire, "6 Moisturizers to Help Your Face Look Its Best," 21 Aug. 2017

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

6 Nov 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

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


full of whispering sounds

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