1 of 2


: unable to feel anything in a particular part of your body especially as a result of cold or anesthesia
It was so cold that my fingers went numb.
: unable to think, feel, or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you : indifferent
He stood there numb with fear.
numbly adverb
numbness noun


2 of 2


numbed; numbing

transitive verb

: to make (someone or something) numb: such as
: to cause (a part of the body) to lose sensation
hands numbed by the cold
The injection will numb the area to be operated on.
: to impair in force or sensation : deaden
trying to numb the pain
: to make (someone) unable to think, feel, or react normally
But there is no humor in Natural Born Killers. It is a relentlessly bloody story designed to shock us and to numb us further to the senselessness of reckless murder.Michael Shnayerson
In her last book, Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag disputes the notion that viewers are numbed by an onslaught of photographed calamities.Dennis Lim
But Madame Melmotte was neither crushed by grief nor did she affect to be so crushed. She had been numbed by the suddenness and by the awe of the catastrophe.Anthony Trolloppe

Examples of numb in a Sentence

Adjective The side of my face was still numb an hour after the surgery. I had a numb feeling in my toes. It was so cold that my fingers went numb. A stroke can cause one side of your body to go numb. Her son had died and she just felt numb. He stood there numb with fear. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
My feet are now mostly numb, and the heel of my right foot is causing more problems while walking. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 18 Sep. 2023 Family bonds can be broken or whole, visible or hidden, forgotten or rediscovered, numb or forever raw. Elena Lappin, Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2023 This cuts off its blood supply, which in turn makes your pinky and ring fingers feel tingly and numb. Amber Brenza, SELF, 8 Sep. 2023 Discussing the ex-president’s lengthening criminal docket, Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told the Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic that people have grown numb to Trump indictments. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 15 Aug. 2023 The room was freezing, and the tips of my fingers had wrinkled and gone numb. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 19 July 2023 In the car after my friend picked me up from the airport, my tongue and the left side of my face became numb, and my left arm felt weak. Sunny Fitzgerald, SELF, 22 Aug. 2023 That discomfort is extra miserable when accompanied by a sharp, electrical pain or even a numb sensation running all the way down your leg into your foot. Andi Breitowich, Women's Health, 16 Aug. 2023 Perhaps this is because weeks of unrelenting brutal heat and other astonishing extreme weather events have left even journalists and editors numb. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 31 July 2023
But movies are an art in themselves, and, when performances are filmed without an aesthetic, the result is numbing, as the up-and-down fortunes of early movie musicals reflect. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2023 Most began that journey in a static state of victimhood, emotionally numbed and incapacitated by wounds psychic or physical or both. Diane Cole, Washington Post, 2 Sep. 2023 Most practitioners will slather on numbing cream 15 to 20 minutes before of the injections. Lisa Desantis, Glamour, 21 Aug. 2023 Stellate or phrenic nerve blocks: These injections use medications that numb the target nerve. Jessica Migala, Health, 6 Aug. 2023 In contrast, a healthcare provider will numb the perineum to make a cut if needed.2 Here's what happens during an episiotomy:2 Incision: There are two types of cuts—a median or mediolateral incision. Korin Miller, Health, 15 Sep. 2023 That blinding illumination can bring on a numbing sense of malaise, and even derail your day. WSJ, 14 Sep. 2023 The law aims to incentivize outpatient surgical centers to use pain relief methods like nerve blocks and long-acting numbing medications. Angela Roberts, Baltimore Sun, 11 Sep. 2023 Depending on where the beans are harvested, vanilla may taste dark-sweet, of smoke and cherries; or earthy as chocolate and coffee; or buttery, or caramelly or plummy; or stung by the faintest numbing hint of anise. Ligaya Mishan Melody Melamed, New York Times, 23 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'numb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English nomme, nomyn "unable to move, paralyzed," literally "taken (by sickness, cold, paralysis, etc.)," from past participle of nimen "to take" — more at nimble


derivative of numb entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1561, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of numb was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near numb

Cite this Entry

“Numb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: lacking in sensation especially from cold or from an anesthetic
: lacking in emotion : indifferent
numbly adverb
numbness noun


2 of 2 verb
: to make or become numb

Medical Definition


: devoid of sensation (as from the administration of anesthesia or exposure to cold)
numb transitive verb
Arm or leg surgery, even total hip replacements, now can be performed with regional anesthesia, which numbs only the area being operated upon. Marilyn Chase, The Wall Street Journal

More from Merriam-Webster on numb

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