dumbing down

dumb

[duhm]
adjective, dumber, dumbest.
1.
lacking intelligence or good judgment; stupid; dull-witted.
2.
lacking the power of speech (offensive when applied to humans): a dumb animal.
3.
temporarily unable to speak: dumb with astonishment.
4.
refraining from any or much speech; silent.
5.
made, done, etc., without speech.
6.
lacking some usual property, characteristic, etc.
7.
performed in pantomime; mimed.
8.
Computers. pertaining to the inability to do processing locally: A dumb terminal can input, output, and display data, but cannot process it. Compare intelligent ( def 4 ).
9.
Nautical.
a.
(of a barge) without means of propulsion.
b.
(of any craft) without means of propulsion, steering, or signaling.
Verb phrases
10.
dumb down, Informal. to make or become less intellectual, simpler, or less sophisticated: to dumb down a textbook; American movies have dumbed down.

Origin:
before 1000; Old English; cognate with Old Norse dumbr, Gothic dumbs, Old Saxon dumb, Old High German tump, German dumm

dumbly, adverb
dumbness, noun
quasi-dumb, adjective
quasi-dumbly, adverb


Dumb in the sense “lacking the power of speech” is perceived as insulting when describing humans (but not animals), probably because dumb also means “stupid; dull-witted.” The noun dummy in the sense “person who lacks the power of speech” is also perceived as insulting, as are the terms deaf-and-dumb, deaf-mute, and mute. The adjective hearing-impaired is acceptable though not the term of choice, partly because it lacks directness. The preferred term is deaf, which makes no reference to an inability to speak or communicate; the capitalized Deaf signals membership in this community.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
dumb (dʌm)
 
adj
1.  lacking the power to speak, either because of defects in the vocal organs or because of hereditary deafness
2.  lacking the power of human speech: dumb animals
3.  temporarily lacking or bereft of the power to speak: struck dumb
4.  refraining from speech; uncommunicative
5.  producing no sound; silent: a dumb piano
6.  made, done, or performed without speech
7.  informal
 a.  slow to understand; dim-witted
 b.  See also dumb down foolish; stupid
8.  (of a projectile or bomb) not guided to its target
 
[Old English; related to Old Norse dumbr, Gothic dumbs, Old High German tump]
 
'dumbly
 
adv
 
'dumbness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

dumb
O.E. dumb "silent, unable to speak," from PIE *dheubh- "confusion, stupefaction, dizziness." O.E., Goth. (thumb) and O.N. (dumbr) forms meant only "mute, speechless;" in O.H.G. (thumb) it meant both this and "stupid," and in Mod.Ger. this latter became the only sense. Meaning "foolish, ignorant" was
occasionally in English from early 14c., but modern use (1823) comes from influence of Ger. dumm. Related: dumber; dumbest. Applied to silent contrivances, hence dumbwaiter. To dumb down is from 1933.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Dumb definition


from natural infirmity (Ex. 4:11); not knowing what to say (Prov. 31:8); unwillingness to speak (Ps. 39:9; Lev. 10:3). Christ repeatedly restored the dumb (Matt. 9:32, 33; Luke 11:14; Matt. 12:22) to the use of speech.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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