dull

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English dull, dul (also dyll, dill, dwal), from Old English dol (dull, foolish, erring, heretical; foolish, silly; presumptuous), from Proto-Germanic *dulaz, a variant of *dwalaz (stunned, mad, foolish, misled), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰwel-, *dʰewel- (to dim, dull, cloud, make obscure, swirl, whirl). Cognate with Scots dull, doll (slow to understand or hear, deaf, dull), North Frisian dol (rash, unthinking, giddy, flippant), Dutch dol (crazy, mad, insane), Low German dul, dol (mad, silly, stupid, fatuous), German toll (crazy, mad, wild, fantastic), Danish dval (foolish, absurd), Icelandic dulur (secretive, silent).

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

dull (comparative duller, superlative dullest)

  1. Lacking the ability to cut easily; not sharp.
    All these knives are dull.
  2. Boring; not exciting or interesting.
    He sat through the dull lecture and barely stayed awake.
    When does having a dull personality ever get you a girlfriend? Even if you get one, how does being dull help you keep a relationship for over a year?
  3. Not shiny; having a matte finish or no particular luster or brightness.
    Choose a dull finish to hide fingerprints.
    a dull fire or lamp; a dull red or yellow; a dull mirror
  4. Not bright or intelligent; stupid; slow of understanding.
    • Shakespeare
      She is not bred so dull but she can learn.
    • Thackeray
      dull at classical learning
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 15, The China Governess[1]:
      ‘No,’ said Luke, grinning at her. ‘You're not dull enough! […] What about the kid's clothes? I don't suppose they were anything to write home about, but didn't you keep anything? A bootee or a bit of embroidery or anything at all?’
  5. Sluggish, listless.
    • Bible, Matthew xiii. 15
      This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing.
    • Spenser
      O, help my weak wit and sharpen my dull tongue.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      […] St. Bede's at this period of its history was perhaps the poorest and most miserable parish in the East End of London. Close-packed, crushed by the buttressed height of the railway viaduct, rendered airless by huge walls of factories, it at once banished lively interest from a stranger's mind and left only a dull oppression of the spirit.
  6. Cloudy, overcast.
    It's a dull day.
  7. Insensible; unfeeling.
    • Beaumont and Fletcher
      Think me not / So dull a devil to forget the loss / Of such a matchless wife.
  8. Heavy; lifeless; inert.
    • Shakespeare
      the dull earth
    • Longfellow
      As turning the logs will make a dull fire burn, so changes of study a dull brain.

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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Verb[edit]

dull (third-person singular simple present dulls, present participle dulling, simple past and past participle dulled)

  1. (transitive) To render dull; to remove or blunt an edge or something that was sharp.
    Years of misuse have dulled the tools.
    • Francis Bacon
      This [] dulled their swords.
  2. (transitive) To soften, moderate or blunt; to make dull, stupid, or sluggish; to stupefy.
    He drinks to dull the pain.
    • Shakespeare
      Those [drugs] she has / Will stupefy and dull the sense a while.
    • Trench
      Use and custom have so dulled our eyes.
  3. (intransitive) To lose a sharp edge; to become dull.
    A razor will dull with use.
  4. To render dim or obscure; to sully; to tarnish.
    • Francis Bacon
      dulls the mirror

Translations[edit]

External links[edit]