numb (nŭm)
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-.]
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."

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Numbness — Numb ness, n. The condition of being numb; that state of a living body in which it loses, wholly or in part, the power of feeling or motion. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • numbness — (n.) 1570s, from NUMB (Cf. numb) (adj.) + NESS (Cf. ness) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Numbness — (Roget s Thesaurus) >insensibility to touch. < N PARAG:Numbness >N GRP: N 1 Sgm: N 1 numbness numbness &c.(physical insensibility) 376 Sgm: N 1 anaesthesia anaesthesia Sgm: N 1 pins and needles pins and needles PARAG:Numbness >V GRP:… …   English dictionary for students

  • numbness — Indefinite term for abnormal sensation, including absent or reduced sensory perception as well as paresthesias. * * * numb·ness n reduced sensibility to touch <facial numbness> * * * numb·ness (numґnis) anesthesia (def. 1) …   Medical dictionary

  • numbness — numb ► ADJECTIVE ▪ deprived of the power of sensation. ► VERB ▪ make numb. DERIVATIVES numbly adverb numbness noun ORIGIN from obsolete nomen «taken», from Germanic …   English terms dictionary

  • numbness — noun see numb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • numbness — See numbly. * * * …   Universalium

  • numbness — noun a) Absent or reduced sensitivity to cutaneous stimulation. b) Inability or reduced ability to experience emotion. Syn: hypesthesia …   Wiktionary

  • numbness — Synonyms and related words: acedia, aloofness, analgesia, anesthesia, apathy, ataraxia, ataraxy, benumbedness, blah, blahs, callousness, comatoseness, deadness, detachment, disinterest, dispassion, dullness, electronarcosis, heartlessness,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • numbness — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. deadness, anesthesia, stupefaction, dullness, insensitivity, insensibility, paralysis, loss of motion, loss of sensation …   English dictionary for students

  • numbness — numb|ness [ nʌmnəs ] noun uncount the condition of not being able to feel in a part of your body …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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