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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), West-Flemish dul (angry, furious).


  • IPA(key): /dʌl/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌl


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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      She is not bred so dull but she can learn.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Makepeace Thackeray
      dull at classical learning
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 15, in 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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Edmund Spenser
      O, help my weak wit and sharpen my dull tongue.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in 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.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Beaumont and Fletcher
      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.
  10. (of a noise or sound) Not clear, muffled.




The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


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.
  2. (transitive) To soften, moderate or blunt; to make dull, stupid, or sluggish; to stupefy.
    He drinks to dull the pain.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      Those [drugs] she has / Will stupefy and dull the sense a while.
    • (Can we date this quote?) 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.