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[duhl] /dʌl/
adjective, duller, dullest.
not sharp; blunt:
a dull knife.
causing boredom; tedious; uninteresting:
a dull sermon.
not lively or spirited; listless.
not bright, intense, or clear; dim:
a dull day; a dull sound.
having very little depth of color; lacking in richness or intensity of color.
slow in motion or action; not brisk; sluggish:
a dull day in the stock market.
mentally slow; lacking brightness of mind; somewhat stupid; obtuse.
lacking keenness of perception in the senses or feelings; insensible; unfeeling.
not intense or acute:
a dull pain.
verb (used with or without object)
to make or become dull.
Origin of dull
1200-50; Middle English; akin to Old English dol foolish, stupid; cognate with German toll
Related forms
dullness, dulness, noun
dully, adverb
undulled, adjective
1. Dull, blunt refer to the edge or point of an instrument, tool, or the like. Dull implies a lack or a loss of keenness or sharpness: a dull razor or saw. Blunt may mean the same or may refer to an edge or point not intended to be keen or sharp: a blunt or stub pen; a blunt foil. 2. boring, tiresome, dreary, vapid. 3. apathetic, torpid, inactive, inert. 7. unimaginative, unintelligent, stolid. Dull, blunted, slow, stupid are applied to mental qualities. Dull implies obtuseness, lack of imagination: a dull child. Blunted implies loss of original keenness of intelligence through disease, sad experience, or the like: blunted faculties. Slow applies to a sluggish intellect: a slow mind. Stupid implies slowness of mental processes, but also lack of intelligence, wisdom, prudence, etc.: a stupid person. 10. blunt, deaden, benumb; depress, dishearten, discourage.
1. sharp, keen. 2. interesting. 7. bright. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dully
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "You are going to find him in a way we don't understand," he continued, dully.

    The Slayer Of souls Robert Chambers
  • "I paid it to Squire Hall to-day and he has it fer ye," said Hiram, dully.

  • Even in the chaos of my thoughts, I wondered, dully, at their extraordinary shapes.

    The House on the Borderland William Hope Hodgson
  • They advanced to the topic again and again, dully, but with exaltation.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • "Mother's dead," said Millicent dully; and her big eyes which had been so dull, shone suddenly bright with tears.

    Happy Pollyooly Edgar Jepson
  • “That makes it different,” he said dully, as if to 234 himself.

    The Coyote James Roberts
  • Force played from it, and on its sides appeared C-R-U-1 in dully glowing golden light.

    The Last Evolution John Wood Campbell
  • "I cannot allow Professor Burr to do anything for me," he said dully.

British Dictionary definitions for dully


slow to think or understand; stupid
lacking in interest
lacking in perception or the ability to respond; insensitive
lacking sharpness; blunt
not acute, intense, or piercing
(of weather) not bright or clear; cloudy
not active, busy, or brisk
lacking in spirit or animation; listless
(of colour) lacking brilliance or brightness; sombre
not loud or clear; muffled
(med) (of sound elicited by percussion, esp of the chest) not resonant
to make or become dull
Derived Forms
dullish, adjective
dullness, dulness, noun
dully, adverb
Word Origin
Old English dol; related to Old Norse dul conceit, Old High German tol foolish, Greek tholeros confused
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 dully



c.1200, "stupid;" early 13c., "blunt, not sharp;" rare before mid-14c., apparently from Old English dol "dull-witted, foolish," or an unrecorded parallel word, or from Middle Low German dul "slow-witted," both from Proto-Germanic *dulaz (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon dol "foolish," Old High German tol, German toll "mad, wild," Gothic dwals "foolish"), from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, vapor, smoke" (and related notions of "defective perception or wits"). Of color from early 15c.; of pain or other sensations from 1725. Sense of "boring" first recorded 1580s.

dull. (8) Not exhilarating; not delightful; as to make dictionaries is dull work. [Johnson]
Dullsville, slang for "town where nothing happens," attested from 1960.


c.1200, "to grow weary, tire;" of pointed or edged things from c.1400; of the senses from 1550s; from dull (adj.). Related: Dulled; dulling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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dully in Medicine

dull (dŭl)
adj. dull·er, dull·est

  1. Lacking responsiveness or alertness; insensitive.

  2. Not intensely or keenly felt, as in pain.

dull'ness n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Idioms and Phrases with dully


In addition to the idiom beginning with dull also see: never a dull moment
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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