From Middle English deef, from Old English dēaf, from Proto-Germanic *daubaz, from Proto-Indo-European *dʰewbʰ- (“to whisk, smoke, darken, obscure”). Cognate with Ancient Greek τυφλός (tuphlós, “blind”). See also dumb.
- IPA(key): /dɛf/
Audio (US) (file)
- (dated, regional US and England) IPA(key): /diːf/
- Rhymes: -ɛf
- Homophones: death (with th-fronting), Deaf, def
- Unable to hear, or only partially able to hear.
- 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Ivlivs Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii]:
- Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf.
- 1665, John Dryden, The Indian Emperour
- Deaf with the noise, I took my hasty flight.
- Unwilling to listen or be persuaded; determinedly inattentive; regardless.
- Those people are deaf to reason.
- c. 1605–1608, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Tymon of Athens”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii]:
- O, that men's ears should be / To counsel deaf, but not to flattery!
- Obscurely heard; stifled; deadened.
- (obsolete, Britain, dialect) Decayed; tasteless; dead.
- a deaf nut; deaf corn
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Halliwell to this entry?)
- (Can we date this quote by Holland and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
- If the season be unkindly and intemperate, they [peppers] will catch a blast; and then the seeds will be deaf, void, light, and naught.
- Deaf Smith County
- fall on deaf ears
- stone deaf
- turn a deaf ear
- deaf aid
- deaf and dumb
deaf pl (plural only)
- (with "the") Those who are deaf, taken as a group.
deaf (plural deafs)
- (nonstandard, rare) A deaf person.
- 1897, József Jekelfalussy, The Millennium of Hungary and Its People, page 347:
- Among the second group of philanthropic educational institutions the institutes for the deafs and dumbs must be mentioned.
- 1980, Cao Van Vien, Van Khuyen Dong, Reflections on the Vietnam War:
- Negotiations for South Vietnam's political future and the enforcement of cease-fire between two sides progressed like a conversation between two deafs.
Used primarily within the deaf community.
- (obsolete, transitive) To deafen.
- 1634, John Fletcher & William Shakespeare, Two Noble Kinsmen:
- It is enough, my hearing shall be punish'd With what shall happen, -- 'gainst the which there is No deafing -- but to hear, not taint mine eye With dread sights that it may shun.
- 1871, Charlse Hindlley, A Kicksey Winsey: Or a Lerry Come-Twang:
- Shall we, I say, that have been so long civil and wealthy in peace, famous and invincible in war, fortunate in both, we that have been ever able to aid any of our neighbours (but never deafed any of their ears with any of our supplications for assistance) shall we, I say, without blushing, abase ourselves so far, as to imitate these beastly Indians, slaves to the Spaniards, refuse to the world, and as yet aliens from the holy covenant of God?
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)
From Proto-Germanic *daubaz, from Proto-Indo-European *dʰewbʰ- (“smoky, foggy, dim”). Germanic cognates include Old Frisian dāf, Old Saxon dōf (Low German dow), Old High German toub (German taub), Old Norse daufr (Swedish döv). The Indo-European root is also the source of Greek τυφλός (tyflós, “blind”).