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
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
      As turning the logs will make a dull fire burn, so changes of study a dull brain.
    • 1915, Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger, chapter I:
      A great bargain also had been the excellent Axminster carpet which covered the floor; as, again, the arm-chair in which Bunting now sat forward, staring into the dull, small fire.
  4. Not bright or intelligent; stupid; slow of understanding.
    • William Shakespeare (c.1564–1616)
      She is not bred so dull but she can learn.
    • William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)
      dull at classical learning
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 15, The China Governess[1]:
      She paused and took a defiant breath. ‘If you don't believe me, I can't help it. But I'm not a liar.’ ¶ ‘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.
    • Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599)
      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 (1603-1625)
      Think me not / So dull a devil to forget the loss / Of such a matchless wife.
  8. Heavy; lifeless; inert.
  9. (of pain etc) Not intense; felt indistinctly or only slightly.
    Pressing on the bruise produces a dull pain.

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

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]