adjective, deafer, deafest.
partially or wholly lacking or deprived of the sense of hearing; unable to hear.
refusing to listen, heed, or be persuaded; unreasonable or unyielding: deaf to all advice.
(initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the Deaf or their cultural community: Deaf customs and values.
noun (used with a plural verb)
deaf persons collectively (usually preceded by the ): social services for the deaf.
(initial capital letter) deaf persons who identify themselves as members of a community composed of deaf persons and others who share in their culture (usually preceded by the ).

before 900; Middle English deef, Old English dēaf; cognate with Middle Low German dōf, Dutch doof, Old High German toub

deafly, adverb
deafness, noun
half-deaf, adjective
nondeaf, adjective
nondeafly, adverb
nondeafness, noun
quasi-deaf, adjective
quasi-deafly, adverb
semideaf, adjective
semideafness, noun
undeaf, adjective

See dumb.

Deaf is usually pronounced [def] with the vowel of left. In uneducated speech the dialectal pronunciation [deef] to rhyme with leaf, is still heard occasionally, but it is increasingly rare. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
deaf (dɛf)
1.  a.  partially or totally unable to hear
 b.  See also tone-deaf (as collective noun; preceded by the): the deaf
2.  refusing to heed: deaf to the cries of the hungry
[Old English dēaf; related to Old Norse daufr]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. deaf "deaf, dull, obtuse," specialized from P.Gmc. *daubaz, from PIE dheubh-, which was used to form words meaning "confusion, stupefaction, dizziness" (cf. Gk. typhlos "blind). The word was pronounced to rhyme with reef until 18c. Deaf-mute is from 1837, after Fr. sourd-muet. Deaf-mutes were sought
after in 18c.-19c. Britain as fortune-tellers. Deaf as an adder (O.E.) is from Psalms lviii.5.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

deaf (děf)

  1. Partially or completely lacking in the sense of hearing.

  2. Deaf Of or relating to the Deaf or their culture.

  1. Deaf people considered as a group.

  2. Deaf The community of deaf people who use American Sign language as a primary means of communication.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with deaf, also see fall on deaf ears; stone deaf; turn a deaf ear.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
But it's not strictly necessary: deaf people manage to cross streets without
  benefit of hearing the traffic.
Closed captioning for deaf users was not properly supported.
Everyone pretends to be in favour of bipartisan dialogue, but it is a dialogue
  of the deaf.
Some deaf people have extraordinarily keen vision, and a new study of cats may
  explain why.
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