\ ˈnəm How to pronounce numb (audio) \

Definition of numb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : 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.
2 : unable to think, feel, or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you : indifferent He stood there numb with fear.


numbed; numbing

Definition of numb (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make (someone or something) numb: such as
a : 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.
b : to impair in force or sensation : deaden trying to numb the pain
c : 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

Other Words from numb


numbly \ ˈnəm-​lē How to pronounce numb (audio) \ adverb
numbness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for numb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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: Adjective But the alarms are already sounding and if anything the country is going numb to them. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 12 July 2022 Instead, there was just the numb acceptance of the inevitable and resignation that things will never be the same. Raf Casert And Samuel Petrequin, Chicago Tribune, 9 July 2022 And Ozzy would much rather go mentally numb some other way. Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, 3 July 2022 Herzog has written a clipped, economical account that sometimes explodes into lyricism, turning their waiting into a thing of numb, antic beauty. Dan Piepenbring, The New Yorker, 16 June 2022 On the verge of losing her identity completely, Carmen grows increasingly numb to the mundane nature of bourgeois delight. Holly Jones, Variety, 15 June 2022 For Schneider Enriquez, who has known Salcedo since the ’90s, the absence of literal violence gives her work its strength, especially when so many of us have become numb. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, 2 June 2022 But perhaps the world has become numb to Putin's familiar tactics: demoralize a population by killing and wounding ordinary people, a strategy also used in Syria and Chechnya. Michael Bociurkiw, CNN, 10 Mar. 2022 The massacre at the Tops supermarket was unsettling even in a nation that has become almost numb to mass shootings. Carolyn Thompson, Anchorage Daily News, 19 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'numb.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of numb


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1561, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for numb


Middle English nomen, from past participle of nimen to take — more at nim

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Time Traveler for numb

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

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Numb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for numb


\ ˈnəm How to pronounce numb (audio) \

Kids Definition of numb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : unable to feel anything especially because of cold My toes are numb.
2 : unable to think, feel, or react normally (as because of great fear, surprise, or sadness) For the first few days after she left, I felt numb— Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

Other Words from numb

numbly adverb He nodded numbly.


numbed; numbing

Kids Definition of numb (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make or become unable to feel pain or touch The cold numbed my face.


\ ˈnəm How to pronounce numb (audio) \

Medical Definition of numb

: devoid of sensation (as from the administration of anesthesia or exposure to cold)

Other Words from numb

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

Nglish: Translation of numb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of numb for Arabic Speakers


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