\ 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 Slumped at the wheel after a terrifying journey through active shelling, the 42-year-old looked numb with exhaustion. Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post, 15 May 2022 The Bucks took Games 1 and 5 in Boston, stealing the latter by charging back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and leaving the Celtics numb. Adam Himmelsbach,, 14 May 2022 Some people who experience M.S. hugs have chest pain and others report that their limbs go numb during the spasm4. Sara Gaynes Levy, SELF, 19 Apr. 2022 Doctors speculate that her severe reaction to COVID-19 could possibly be connected to her Raynaud's syndrome, a common condition in which parts of the body feel numb in response to cold temperatures and stress. Julie Mazziotta,, 18 Feb. 2022 The long slog of the pandemic - now in its 23rd month - has left Jeffrey Hile almost numb. Anchorage Daily News, 11 Jan. 2022 Is one side of the face drooping or numb, or is the smile uneven? Serena Coady, SELF, 28 Apr. 2022 The flavor builds, each bite adding up to the next, so that halfway through a bag, your tongue is pleasantly numb from the spiciness, your mouth is puckering from the sour. Mariya Karimjee, Bon Appétit, 20 Apr. 2022 With Pig, Cage had a chance to press pause on the sound and fury and play someone quiet, numb, still wounded from tragedy and left adrift in a world that prized flashiness over substance. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 18 Apr. 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

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Numb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 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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