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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.
deafness deaf·ness (děf'nĭs)
The lack or loss of the ability to hear.
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.
The lack or severe impairment of the ability to hear. Deafness is usually genetic or congenital as a result of prenatal viral infection, birth trauma, or other causes. Acquired deafness is caused mostly by drug toxicity, trauma, and certain diseases. Cochlear implants are used to treat some forms of deafness.