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[def-uh-ning] /ˈdɛf ə nɪŋ/
deadening (def 2).
Origin of deafening
1590-1600; deafen + -ing1
Related forms
half-deafening, adjective
nondeafening, adjective
nondeafeningly, adverb
quasi-deafening, adjective


[def-uh n] /ˈdɛf ən/
verb (used with object)
to make deaf:
The accident deafened him for life.
to stun or overwhelm with noise:
The pounding of the machines deafened us.
deaden (def 3).
Obsolete. to render (a sound) inaudible, especially by a louder sound.
1590-1600; deaf + -en1
Related forms
deafeningly, adverb
half-deafened, adjective
nondeafened, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for deafening
  • These crustaceans can close their giant claws so violently that they snap shut with a deafening sound used to stun prey.
  • When two opposing robots face off to get to the ramp, the screams are deafening.
  • The gulf between them has been filled with a deafening outcry.
  • The outcry when this was revealed was deafening, and the programme was dropped.
  • Other than that, there was complete and deafening silence.
  • Background sounds in her suburban neighborhood-lawn mowers, planes, barking dogs-intermingled in a deafening buzz.
  • There is a kind of deafening agony, blinding agony to this new poem.
  • There were deafening blasts and fiery explosions on all sides.
  • deafening dance music blared, as swirling searchlights swept the crowd.
  • If you do go and the sound seems deafening, ask the management to turn down the volume or insist on your money back.
British Dictionary definitions for deafening


excessively loud: deafening music
Derived Forms
deafeningly, adverb


(transitive) to make deaf, esp momentarily, as by a loud noise
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 deafening

"very loud," 1590s, from present participle of deafen (q.v.). Deafening silence is attested by 1830.



1590s, "to make deaf," from deaf + -en (1). The earlier verb was simply deaf (mid-15c.). For "to become deaf, to grow deaf," Old English had adeafian (intransitive), which survived into Middle English as deave but then took on a transitive sense from mid-14c. and sank from use except in dialects (where it mostly has transitive and figurative senses), leaving English without an intransitive verb here.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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deafening in Medicine

deafen deaf·en (děf'ən)
v. deaf·ened, deaf·en·ing, deaf·ens
To make deaf, especially momentarily by a loud noise.

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