\ ˈdəm How to pronounce dumb (audio) \
dumber; dumbest

Definition of dumb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : lacking intelligence : stupid pretended to be dumb
b : showing a lack of intelligence asking dumb questions a dumb look on his face
c : requiring no intelligence dumb luck
2a : lacking the human power of speech dumb animals
b of a person, dated, offensive, see usage paragraph below : lacking the ability to speak : mute
3 : temporarily unable to speak (as from shock or astonishment) struck dumb with fear
4 : not expressed in uttered words dumb grief
5 : silent they were capable of sitting for hours, dumb and unabashed, over their pipes— Ellen Glasgow also : taciturn
6 : lacking some usual attribute or accompaniment especially : having no means of self-propulsion a dumb barge
7 : not having the capability to process data a dumb terminal — compare intelligent sense 3a


dumbed; dumbing; dumbs

Definition of dumb (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make silent : deaden would lie around, dumbed by the drugs— Norman Mailer

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Other Words from dumb


dumbly \ ˈdəm-​lē How to pronounce dumb (audio) \ adverb
dumbness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for dumb

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for dumb


stupid, dull, dense, crass, dumb mean lacking in power to absorb ideas or impressions. stupid implies a slow-witted or dazed state of mind that may be either congenital or temporary. stupid students just keeping the seats warm stupid with drink dull suggests a slow or sluggish mind such as results from disease, depression, or shock. monotonous work that leaves the mind dull dense implies a thickheaded imperviousness to ideas. too dense to take a hint crass suggests a grossness of mind precluding discrimination or delicacy. a crass, materialistic people dumb applies to an exasperating obtuseness or lack of comprehension. too dumb to figure out what's going on

Usage of Dumb


The term dumb as a descriptor for someone lacking the ability to speak was once common, and from the early 19th century, it featured in the names of schools and advocacy organizations. In that same century, however, rejection of the term by the population it aimed to describe began, and by the end of the 20th century, the offensiveness of dumb was widely recognized. When a single term to describe someone who lacks the ability to speak is called for, the term mute is used instead.

Examples of dumb in a Sentence

Adjective I'm not dumb enough to believe that. It was a dumb idea in the first place. He just stood there with a dumb grin on his face. This is one of the dumbest TV shows I've ever seen. It was dumb luck that we found this place at all. His success is just a matter of dumb luck. He was born deaf and dumb. Verb the terrible news dumbed her for a long moment, and then she burst into tears
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Ratajkowski has been fighting the stereotype of the dumb model from the beginning of her career. Daniel Jackson, Allure, "Emily Ratajkowski on Being Comfortable With Her Sexuality," 18 July 2017 Ninety nine percent of all NFL players are explicitly not dumb. Andy Benoit, The MMQB, "pic.twitter.com/GWuJvRTLPY," 10 July 2017 And all of it thanks to mango lovers, tolerant homeowners and dumb luck. Carlos Frías, miamiherald, "A 100-year-old tree stands in a Miami yard. Is it the ‘granddaddy of all Florida mangoes?’," 29 June 2017 There's nothing inherently wrong with remaking The Mummy; the 1999 film (itself a remake) is a lot of dumb fun, but just that. Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Mummy': Why Tom Cruise Couldn't Top Brendan Fraser," 9 June 2017 Pete Townshend wrote the music and the lyrics for the inspiring story of the deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball. Dan Kelly, kansascity.com, "KC events June 8-14: Tig Notaro, Dragon Boat Festival, Juneteenth at Nelson, ‘Hamlet’," 6 June 2017 Some Dumb American, for giving me the opportunity — and for demonstrating what doing it badly looks like. Lily Meade, Teen Vogue, "What Being Trolled Taught Me About Diversity," 6 July 2017 The difference between the dumb comments of the past and the inappropriate remarks of today, however, is the size of our audience. Ana Veciana-suarez, miamiherald, "The stupid — and vile — things people say on social media," 3 July 2017 Here are the top five dumb things Louisville drivers do. Jeffrey Lee Puckett, The Courier-Journal, "A study says that Louisville has the 13th-best drivers in America ... Ha!," 30 June 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Worse, the country’s attempts to fix the schools have tended to dumb them down, experts say. New York Times, "Israel, ‘Start-up Nation,’ Groans Under Strains of Growth and Neglect," 1 Mar. 2020 Auto-aim system does just enough legwork to let players focus on speed without completely dumbing the game down. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Pistol Whip review: The year’s freshest VR game—and oh-so close to greatness," 7 Nov. 2019 The differences between the 2000s and 2019 versions are nuanced but can be quickly boiled (or dumbed) down to fewer butt shots. Seija Rankin, EW.com, "Who Run the World? Inside the first female-led installment of the Charlie’s Angels franchise," 6 Nov. 2019 Many thought Ross wanted girls to pretend to like things to get a guy to crush on them, or even dumb themselves down so guys can feel like teachers. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "10 Things Guys Look for in Girls," 6 Nov. 2018 The filmmakers wanted all of the satire, but dumbed it down enough to appeal to a mass audience in the cutthroat summer blockbuster season. cleveland.com, "Before 'Black Panther' a history of obscure superheroes on the big screen," 15 Feb. 2018 Many thought Ross wanted girls to pretend to like things to get a guy to crush on them, or even dumb themselves down so guys can feel like teachers. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "10 Things Guys Look for in Girls," 6 Nov. 2018 Winston had to dumb it down to a few dozen basic sentences. Andy Rosen, BostonGlobe.com, "Toil and trouble: How ‘Macbeth’ could teach computers to think," 2 June 2018 One former Pompeo aide attributed the success to Pompeo's keen ability to distill complex issues and convey them clearly and directly, without dumbing them down. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, "Trump's intelligence whisperer prepares for State role," 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dumb.' 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 dumb


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1607, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dumb

Adjective and Verb

Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German tumb mute

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Time Traveler for dumb

Time Traveler

The first known use of dumb was before the 12th century

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Statistics for dumb

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dumb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dumb. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for dumb



English Language Learners Definition of dumb

: not showing or having good judgment or intelligence : stupid or foolish
: not requiring or resulting from intelligence
: not able to speak especially after being shocked or surprised


\ ˈdəm How to pronounce dumb (audio) \
dumber; dumbest

Kids Definition of dumb

1 : lacking the power of human speech dumb animals
2 often offensive : lacking the ability to speak
Hint: In the past, this word was not considered offensive when used in this way. In recent years, however, many people have come to find it hurtful, and you may offend someone by using it.
3 : temporarily unable to speak (as from shock or surprise)
4 : stupid sense 1, foolish There are no dumb questions.

Other Words from dumb

dumbly adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on dumb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dumb

Nglish: Translation of dumb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dumb for Arabic Speakers

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