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adj. numb·er, numb·est
1. Deprived of the power to feel or move normally; benumbed: toes numb with cold; too numb with fear to cry out.
2. Emotionally unresponsive; indifferent: numb to yet another appeal.
tr. & intr.v. numbed, numb·ing, numbs
To make or become numb.

[Middle English nome, variant of nomin, past participle of nimen, to seize, from Old English niman; see nem- in Indo-European roots.]

numb′ly adv.
numb′ness n.
Word History: Old English had a number of strong verbs (often loosely called "irregular" verbs) that did not survive into Modern English. One such was the verb niman, "to take," later replaced by take, a borrowing from Old Norse. The verb had a past tense nam and a past participle numen; if the verb had survived, it would likely have become nim, nam, num, like swim, swam, swum. Although we do not have the verb as such anymore, its past participle is alive and well, now spelled numb, literally "taken, seized," as by cold or grief. (The older spelling without the b is still seen in the compound numskull.) The verb also lives on indirectly in the word nimble, which used to mean "quick to take," and then later "light, quick on one's feet."
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈnʌm ɪŋ)

causing numbness or insensibility; stupefying.
numb′ing•ly, adv.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.numbing - causing numbness or insensitivity; "the numbing effect of grief"
desensitising, desensitizing - making less susceptible or sensitive to either physical or emotional stimuli
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. freezing, biting, bitter, piercing, arctic, icy, glacial They huddled together against the numbing cold.
2. deadening, desensitizing We found that television viewing had a numbing effect on emotional states in our participants.
3. stupefying, paralysing, stultifying This was a match of almost numbing boredom.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002
References in periodicals archive ?
A Wayne County Circuit Court jury awarded $250,000 to a dental patient who sustained permanent numbness in half of her mouth after a numbing treatment went wrong.
You care yourself but into the numbing That was my reaction, too, when it was suggested to me after my son died.
They currently have a functioning prototype that has been shown to produce a measurable numbing effect in 60 seconds, which in turn reduces the pain from an injection.
Caption: Numbing pain-sensing fibers in the airways could help treat asthma.
Researchers have also highlighted the lack of specificity of PTSD's symptoms as a possible cause, and a recent study with a Veteran sample found that a subset of PTSD symptoms related to numbing loaded more strongly on a depression factor than on the PTSD factor [4].
Numbing one part of the body--such the as a fractured leg--allows anesthesiologists to reduce the necessary depth of anesthesia, making it safer, Dr.
Numbing one part of the body -- such as a fractured leg -- allows us to reduce the necessary depth of anesthesia making it safer, Dr.
Regional ANAESTHESIAAN anaesthetic drug is injected near a cluster of nerves, numbing a larger area of the body, such as below the waist.
In an interview with Attitude magazine, the 27-year-old singer said that it became a habit that occurred when the pain got really bad and she was just continuously numbing herself and then sleeping it off, the Daily Star reported.
I figure the dental profession benefits greatly in the aftermath, since these men's wives must have surely required several numbing sessions and hours of contemplation.
During a conversation at a recent industry gathering, a colleague described the forces we are dealing with as numbing. I understand what he meant.
England coach Steve McClaren is prepared to defy the wishes of Gerrard's Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez and play the midfielder after giving him a jab aimed at numbing his broken toe.