\ ˈdəm How to pronounce dumb (audio) \

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, now often offensive : lacking the ability to speak
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 dumbly (audio) \ adverb
dumbness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for dumb

Synonyms: Adjective

mum, mute, muted, silent, speechless, uncommunicative, wordless

Synonyms: Verb

extinguish, hush, mute, quell, quiet, quieten [chiefly British], settle, shush, shut up, silence, squelch, still

Antonyms: Adjective

communicative, speaking, talking

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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

Is the use of dumb offensive?: Usage Guide


There is evidence that, when applied to persons who cannot speak, dumb has come to be considered offensive.

Examples of dumb in a Sentence


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.


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 The GOP should condemn Don Jr.’s actions because those actions were sleazy and dumb. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Trump Jr.’s Meeting Might Not Rise to Treason," 14 July 2017 Every time Trump would do something dumb, Reince would be up in New York shining his shoes. Sarah Ellison, The Hive, "A Definitive Guide to the G.O.P. Insiders Enabling Donald Trump," 11 July 2017 Ninety nine percent of all NFL players are explicitly not dumb. Andy Benoit, The MMQB, "pic.twitter.com/GWuJvRTLPY," 10 July 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 Tuco Saladonka Harambe Thank you for reading this dumb list. Zach Buchanan, Cincinnati.com, "BAR: A donkey to be named later," 29 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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 Is the technology dumbing things down, pandering to the selfie generation, and preventing visitors from being in the moment? Julia Buckley, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Ancient Rome Is Going High-Tech," 12 Dec. 2017 Even before 2016, some critics accused the GOP of self-consciously dumbing itself down. Charles J. Sykes, Time, "Charles J. Sykes: Where the Right Went Wrong," 5 Oct. 2017 AP tests, which are written and graded by outside experts and cannot by dumbed down by schools, reveal a gap between IDEA and BASIS, explained by their different percentages of impoverished students. Jay Mathews, Washington Post, "Downtrodden parts of Texas lead nation in challenging high school students," 26 May 2017 And are cultural institutions in danger of dumbing down in an effort to draw crowds? Clive Martin, CNN, "Crystal prisms and giant steel heads: Preserving Pink Floyd's 'Mortal Remains'," 12 May 2017

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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Learn More about dumb

Dictionary Entries near dumb



du Maurier



dumb act

dumb ague

Statistics for dumb

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Time Traveler for dumb

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

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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


\ ˈdəm How to pronounce dumb (audio) \

Medical Definition of dumb

1 : lacking the human power of speech dumb animals

2 of a person

often offensive : lacking the ability to speak

Other Words from dumb

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on dumb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dumb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dumb

Spanish Central: Translation of dumb

Nglish: Translation of dumb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dumb for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dumb

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a small bunch of flowers

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