dumb

dumb
1. Dumb now has such strong connotations of stupidity and low intelligence that its original meaning, ‘not able to speak’, is often regarded as offensive. To be safe, it is better to use neutral terms such as speech-impaired.
2. The ailing fortunes of dumb as a verb were revived in the late 1990s by the emergence of a new phrasal verb dumb down, meaning ‘to make more simple or less intellectually demanding’ in depreciatory senses. It tends to be used primarily in the context of education, the arts, and broadcasting, and has an irresistible immediacy of meaning and nuance:

• Successive education ministers have preferred to dumb down exams and glory in vacuous statistics than to deliver real education progress —Express, 2005.

The expression is also used intransitively (without an object):

• I've never believed in this whole idea that you have to dumb down to get an audience —Scotsman, 2002.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dumb — Dumb, a. [AS. dumb; akin to D. dom stupid, dumb, Sw. dumb, Goth. dumbs; cf. Gr. ? blind. See {Deaf}, and cf. {Dummy}.] 1. Destitute of the power of speech; unable; to utter articulate sounds; as, the dumb brutes. [1913 Webster] To unloose the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dumb´ly — dumb «duhm», adjective, verb. –adj. 1. not able to speak: »dumb animals. Helen Keller learned to speak; she was blind and deaf but not dumb. 2. silenced for the moment by fear, surprise, shyness, or other emotion: »She was struck dumb with… …   Useful english dictionary

  • dumb — adj 1 Dumb, mute, speechless, inarticulate mean lacking the power to speak. Dumb and mute are often used interchangeably, but when used in distinction from each other, dumb implies an incapacity for speech (as in the case of animals and inanimate …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Dumb — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda «Dumb» Canción de Nirvana álbum In Utero Publicación 21 de septiembre de 1993 …   Wikipedia Español

  • dumb — dumb; dumb·found; dumb·found·er; dumb·ly; dumb·ness; dumb·found·ed·ly; …   English syllables

  • dumb — dəm adj 1) lacking the human power of speech <dumb animals> 2) of a person often offensive lacking the ability to speak dumb·ly dəm lē adv dumb·ness n …   Medical dictionary

  • dumb — (adj.) O.E. dumb silent, unable to speak, from PIE *dheubh confusion, stupefaction, dizziness, from root *dheu (1) dust, mist, vapor, smoke, and related notions of defective perception or wits. The Old English, Old Saxon (dumb), Gothic (dumbs),… …   Etymology dictionary

  • dumb — ► ADJECTIVE 1) unable to speak; lacking the power of speech. 2) temporarily unable or unwilling to speak. 3) informal, chiefly N. Amer. stupid. 4) (of a computer terminal) having no independent processing capability. ► VERB 1) (dumb down) N …   English terms dictionary

  • Dumb — Dumb, v. t. To put to silence. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dumb — [adj1] unable to speak at a loss for words*, inarticulate, incoherent, mousy*, mum, mute, quiet, silent, soundless, speechless, tongue tied, uncommunicative, voiceless, wordless; concept 593 Ant. speaking dumb [adj2] stupid, unintelligent dense,… …   New thesaurus

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