AskDefine | Define dumb

Dictionary Definition

dumb adj
1 slow to learn or understand; lacking intellectual acuity; "so dense he never understands anything I say to him"; "never met anyone quite so dim"; "although dull at classical learning, at mathematics he was uncommonly quick"- Thackeray; "dumb officials make some really dumb decisions"; "he was either normally stupid or being deliberately obtuse"; "worked with the slow students" [syn: dense, dim, dull, obtuse, slow]
2 unable to speak temporarily; "struck dumb"; "speechless with shock" [syn: speechless]
3 lacking the power of human speech; "dumb animals"
4 unable to speak because of hereditary deafness [syn: mute, silent]

User Contributed Dictionary



From dumb. Cognate with the dumbr. The senses of stupid, unintellectual, and pointless were established under the influence of the German word dumm.


  • /dʌm/
    Rhymes: -ʌm


  1. Unable to speak; lacking power of speech.
    His younger brother was born dumb, and communicated with a self-taught kind of sign language.
  2. In the context of "informal|pejorative": Describing something, especially a person, that is extremely stupid.
    You dumb oaf, you can't fix an engine by hitting it with a hammer!
  3. Describing something unintellectual.
    Harry had the dumb, brainless job of moving boxes from one conveyor belt to another.
  4. Pointless, or serving to create more problems than it solves.
    This is dumb! We're just driving in circles! We ought to have asked for directions an hour ago!



unable to speak
extremely stupid


  1. To silence.
    • 1911 Lindsay Swift William Lloyd Garrison p. 272
      The paralysis of the Northern conscience, the dumbing of the Northern voice, were coming to an end.
  2. To make stupid.
    • 2003 Angela Calabrese Barton Teaching Science for Social Justice p. 124
      "I think she's dumbing us down, so we won't be smarter than her.
  3. To represent as stupid.
    • 2004 Stephen Oppenheimer The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey Out of Africa p. 107
      Bad-mouthing Neanderthals ... is symptomatic of a need to exclude and even demonize .... I suggest that the unproven dumbing of the Neanderthals is an example of the same cultural preconception ....
  4. To reduce the intellectual demands of.
    • 2002 Deborah Meier In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing p. 126
      [T]he ensuing storm caused the department to lower the bar — amid protests that this was dumbing the test down — so that only 80 percent of urban kids would fail. ...

Extensive Definition

Dumb may refer to:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Boeotian, abiotic, anaudic, animal, animalian, animalic, animalistic, aphasic, aphonic, apish, asinine, awkward, azoic, batty, beastlike, beastly, beef-brained, beef-witted, befooled, beguiled, besotted, bestial, blankminded, blockheaded, blockish, bovine, brainless, breathless, brief, brusque, brutal, brute, brutelike, brutish, buffoonish, callow, chumpish, cloddish, close, close-tongued, closemouthed, cockeyed, concise, cowish, crass, crazy, credulous, curt, daffy, daft, dazed, dense, dizzy, doltish, doting, dull, dullard, dumbfounded, dumbstricken, dumbstruck, duncical, duncish, economical of words, empty, empty-headed, exanimate, fat, fatheaded, fatuitous, fatuous, flaky, fond, fool, foolheaded, foolish, fuddled, futile, gaga, gauche, goofy, green, groping, gross, gulled, idiotic, ignorant, imbecile, inane, inanimate, inanimated, inarticulate, incoherent, indisposed to talk, indistinct, ineducable, inept, inert, inexperienced, infatuated, innocent, insane, insensate, insensible, insentient, instinctive, instinctual, klutzy, know-nothing, kooky, laconic, lifeless, loony, lumpish, mad, maudlin, maundering, mindless, moronic, mum, mute, naive, nescient, nonconscious, nonliving, nonrational, numskulled, nutty, oafish, opaque, quiet, raw, reticent, sappy, screwy, senseless, sentimental, short, silent, silly, simple, snug, sottish, soulless, sparing of words, speechless, strange to, stricken dumb, stupid, subhuman, taciturn, tentative, terse, thick, thick-witted, thoughtless, tight-lipped, tongue-tied, tongueless, unacquainted, unanimated, unapprized, uncommunicative, uncomprehending, unconscious, unconversant, unenlightened, unfamiliar, unfeeling, unilluminated, uninformed, uninitiated, unintelligent, unknowing, unloquacious, unposted, unripe, unsure, untalkative, unteachable, unversed, vacuous, voiceless, wacky, wet, witless, word-bound, wordless, wrongheaded, zoic, zooidal, zoologic
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