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Old English deaf "deaf," also "empty, barren," specialized from Proto-Germanic *daubaz (cf. Old Saxon dof, Old Norse daufr, Old Frisian daf, Dutch doof "deaf," German taub, Gothic daufs "deaf, insensate"), from PIE dheubh-, which was used to form words meaning "confusion, stupefaction, dizziness" (cf. Greek typhlos "blind).
The word was pronounced to rhyme with reef until 18c. Deaf-mute is from 1837, after French sourd-muet. Deaf-mutes were sought after in 18c.-19c. Britain as fortune-tellers. Deaf as an adder (Old English) is from Psalms lviii:5.
Partially or completely lacking in the sense of hearing.
Deaf Of or relating to the Deaf or their culture.
Deaf people considered as a group.
Deaf The community of deaf people who use American Sign Language as a primary means of communication.
[1983+ Black; origin uncertain; perhaps fr black English (Jamaican) pronunciation of death, where the semantics would resemble those of killer, murder, etc; certainly interpreted by many as a shortening of definite]