\ ˈdəl How to pronounce dull (audio) \

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


dulled; dulling; dulls

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from dull


dullness or less commonly dulness \ ˈdəl-​nəs How to pronounce dull (audio) \ noun
dully \ ˈdə(l)-​lē How to pronounce dull (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for dull

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Adjective the dull roar of the crowd the dull knife just bounced off the skin of the tomato without cutting it Verb 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective If your silver is looking dull, apply a commercial silver cream. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "How to Clean Silver Before You Set the Thanksgiving Table," 23 Oct. 2020 Taylor noted that the physical signs of heat damage are more split ends, breakage and frizz, less manageability and your strands will look dull. Nicole Saunders, NBC News, "Best hair dryers and blow dryers of 2020, according to celebrity hairstylists," 16 Oct. 2020 In between moments of turmoil, confrontation or flamboyant clowning, the tone turns stolid, even dull; some scenes end with inexplicable thuds. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ Review: Disorder In and Out of Court," 15 Oct. 2020 According to Sugar, the brain doesn’t want to waste time memorizing moments that are dull or non-essential. Doug Johnson, National Geographic, "How you perceive time may depend on your income," 22 Sep. 2020 If your pan starts to look dull or rusty, wash it thoroughly, then dry it over low heat on a burner. Elizabeth Sheldon, Good Housekeeping, "Wash the Right Way to Keep Pots and Pans Looking Brand-New," 1 Sep. 2020 Above the base, unfortunately, Stern and developer Grosvenor Properties worked so hard to be polite that decorous turns a bit dull. John King, SFChronicle.com, "On Nob Hill and in Mission Bay, two new housing projects serve much different needs," 9 Aug. 2020 Try a chemical exfoliant, with an alpha or beta hydroxy acid, to help remove those dead skin cells that leave your skin looking dull. Tanya Edwards, CNN Underscored, "Missing the spa? Here’s how to give yourself a relaxing facial at home," 29 July 2020 Along the East Ninth Street side of its building the museum may install retail storefronts to enliven a dull stretch of sidewalk. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Rock Hall picks firm to design expansion of its iconic lakefront building with ‘reverence and irreverence’," 18 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Experts are hopeful the regional stay-home orders that went into effect this month will dull another post-holiday surge in cases and hospitalizations. Joaquin Palomino, SFChronicle.com, "Are Bay Area hospital numbers flattening? Some see possible signs of a plateau," 26 Dec. 2020 The risk for China is that Mr. Xi’s vigorous assertion of statist prerogatives will dull the kind of innovation, competitive spirit and unbridled energy that powered China’s explosive growth in recent decades. Lingling Wei, WSJ, "China’s Xi Ramps Up Control of Private Sector. ‘We Have No Choice but to Follow the Party.’," 10 Dec. 2020 But sesquiterpenes can turn off that switch and dull the sensation of cold. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "In Winter, Pandas Love to Roll in Horse Poop," 9 Dec. 2020 Telling people that their suffering would be useful triggered the production of the body’s own version of opioids and cannabinoids to dull the pain. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Exercise Blocks Pain, But Only For Believers," 9 Dec. 2020 Human interference in the decision-making process could dull this potential advantage, according to the military researchers. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Human Interruption Slows Down Military Robots in Simulations," 7 Dec. 2020 Millions of Americans dull the pain with prescription opioids. Rana Dasgupta, Harper's Magazine, "The Silenced Majority," 24 Nov. 2020 Alma, too, relies on pills and alcohol to try to dull the languors of a life devastated by professional and romantic disappointment. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, "Your move: ‘Queen’s Gambit’ offers viewers more than good chess," 24 Nov. 2020 The paucity of fans – some 11,000 will be allowed to attend games at brand new Globe Life Field, just a fly ball down the road from ostentatious and overwhelming AT&T Stadium – and the neutral site will certainly dull some of the event’s aesthetics. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "The 5 Tampa Bay Rays you need to know before the 2020 World Series begins," 20 Oct. 2020

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.

See More

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

Adjective and Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dull

Time Traveler for dull

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dull

Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dull.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dull. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dull

How to pronounce dull (audio)

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 How to pronounce dull (audio) \
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 How to pronounce dull (audio) \

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 How to pronounce dull (audio) \ noun
dully \ ˈdəl-​ē How to pronounce dull (audio) \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!