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[bih-nuhm] /bɪˈnʌm/
verb (used with object)
to make numb; deprive of sensation:
benumbed by cold.
to render inactive; deaden or stupefy.
Origin of benumb
1350-1400; back formation from Middle English benomen, past participle of benimen to take away, Old English beniman; cognate with Dutch benemen, German benehmen, Gothic biniman. See be-, nimble, numb
Related forms
[bih-nuhmd-nis, -nuhm-id-] /bɪˈnʌmd nɪs, -ˈnʌm ɪd-/ (Show IPA),
benumbingly, adverb
benumbment, noun
unbenumbed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for benumb
Historical Examples
  • The effect of this announcement was to benumb his faculties.

    Great African Travellers W.H.G. Kingston
  • He was strangely reticent; my news seemed to benumb and sicken him.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
  • He still drinks; not now for pleasure and in luxury, but to benumb the gnawing of an aroused conscience.

    The Seven Curses of London James Greenwood
  • How intense must have been the suffering that could so benumb the heart!

    The Allen House T. S. Arthur
  • At her words he gradually shook off the lethargy which seemed to benumb his senses.

    The Hill of Venus Nathan Gallizier
  • But in poverty there is also a tendency to intimidate, to enfeeble, to benumb.

  • What a multitude of impressions were stored in her sensitive mind, impressions which, for the moment, seemed to benumb her!

    The Last Shot Frederick Palmer
  • It was during this period that Adah met with one of those sorrows which benumb the sensitive feminine heart.

    The House Eugene Field
  • A great horror seemed to come upon him and benumb his body and his senses.

    Frank Merriwell Down South Burt L. Standish
  • This blow will paralyze and benumb the muscles and nerves employed by the animal to distribute its obnoxious fluid.

    Fur Farming For Profit Hermon Basil Laymon
British Dictionary definitions for benumb


verb (transitive)
to make numb or powerless; deaden physical feeling in, as by cold
(usually passive) to make inactive; stupefy (the mind, senses, will, etc)
Derived Forms
benumbingly, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for benumb

late 15c., from be- + numb. Originally of mental states; of the physical body from 1520s. Related: Benumbed; benumbing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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