Definition of numb in English:



  • 1(of a part of the body) deprived of the power of physical sensation.

    ‘my feet were numb with cold’
    • ‘He woke numb and cold, inside a carved hole in the rock.’
    • ‘His narration is intrusive and surplus to requirements but mercifully his lips soon go numb with the cold and he has to stop for a while.’
    • ‘Anna came in saying that she felt emotionally numb.’
    • ‘Those stuck behind the police are arrested and dragged away in plastic ziplock handcuffs that hurt like hell and make your hands go numb.’
    • ‘He reached to grab the rifle but could not because his forearm felt numb and dead.’
    • ‘You're standing beside a beer cooler on the bank of a frozen Siberian river, and your nose is numb with cold.’
    • ‘My hands were getting numb with the cold and I'd got blood all down the side of my head where the oxygen bottle had hit me.’
    • ‘I awoke to find this numb sensation in my left arm, and a horrible headache.’
    • ‘Only when I emerge, exhausted, on the far side do I realise I've been gripping my handlebars so hard, my fingers have gone numb.’
    • ‘I still felt numb and unfeeling, as if nothing that was happening was real.’
    • ‘She was in school in Norway - where her father Peter was working in the oil industry - when her hand started to feel numb while she was writing.’
    • ‘But now that his marriage has broken up, he feels numb again.’
    • ‘When the door opened and she said hello, I nearly went numb with shock.’
    • ‘So tonight we all get to sit through a really long and boring event, stifling yawns and clapping dutifully as our bums go numb on hard wooden chairs.’
    • ‘He tried to move his left leg, to free it from the snow, but it was too tightly wedged, and beginning to go numb with cold.’
    • ‘I lay there still in a numb daze from the shock of Mike's mysterious and sudden death.’
    • ‘I then begin to feel numb, but this side-effect is temporary.’
    • ‘I just then began to finally feel that I was freezing; the numb feeling must have worn away.’
    • ‘McKeown says he felt numb when the verdict came through.’
    • ‘After a minute or so, when the skin is numb, the anaesthetist will insert the larger epidural needle through the skin and towards the epidural space.’
    deprived of sensation, without feeling, numbed, benumbed, dead, deadened, desensitized, insensible, insensate, senseless, unfeeling
    anaesthetized, drugged
    dazed, stunned, stupefied, in shock, paralysed, petrified, immobilized, frozen, chilled
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Unable to think, feel, or respond normally.
      ‘the tragic events left us shocked and numb’
      • ‘I had been in a meeting with an artist and was left totally numb.’
      • ‘It's surprising that one event follows another in such a way that we are left totally numb.’


  • 1 Deprive of feeling or responsiveness.

    ‘the cold had numbed her senses’
    • ‘This is drunk warm out of small earthenware cups or chilled depending on the season, and in my experience the hot stuff numbs your senses like hemlock.’
    • ‘The cold stone numbs my bare feet. Gathering my nightdress up I climb up onto the balcony wall.’
    • ‘Even though the cold had numbed her slightly and she was shivering to death, she could still feel the pain in her jelly - like ankle.’
    • ‘A mixture of nerves and cold numbed my fingers and my mind.’
    • ‘His body movements were labored and his senses were numbed.’
    • ‘I could feel the cold starting to numb my ears and cheeks, and a few stray rainspecks hit my skin.’
    • ‘Then all I remember is cold, such cold it numbed me to my very bones.’
    • ‘Fishing out her key, she inserted it in the lock, her movements jerky, the cold finally numbing her muscles.’
    • ‘The girl was outside at the time, watching it go down and feeling the air grow colder, nippy at first but soon so cold that it numbed the girl's fingers.’
    • ‘As it was the dozen tries that Boroughmuir scored in the first half was enough to numb the senses of even the most fanatical supporter.’
    • ‘Several struck him, piercing his armor and numbing his limbs with cold, but the stoic fighter shrugged it off and rushed the foe again.’
    • ‘Are their senses numbed by visual culture, we wonder, or are they simply getting the programmes they deserve?’
    • ‘Sitting in the rocking chair, Beth Durand lets the air conditioner blow her hair about her head, her eyes closed against the cold that almost numbs her skin.’
    • ‘A painful headache numbed his senses, and his nose was so clogged up he couldn't speak correctly.’
    • ‘It was glacial in my hands, and the cold metal numbed them.’
    • ‘If the alcohol hadn't numbed my senses I'd have been rolling on the floor.’
    • ‘Lia washed her hands, the cold water numbing her fingertips.’
    • ‘Cold air numbed her bare fingers and she held them close to her, putting her hands in the pockets of her coat.’
    • ‘And so she bravely walked down 2nd Avenue, fighting the elements, the cold wind numbing her soft little fingers.’
    • ‘I felt my lungs fill up with water, I could feel the cold numbing my body.’
    deadening, desensitizing, benumbing, anaesthetizing, anaesthetic
    freezing, glacial, raw, piercing, cutting, bitter, arctic, polar
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Cause (a sensation) to be felt less intensely; deaden.
      ‘vodka might numb the pain in my hand’
      • ‘However, being drunk has always numbed my pain, and for that, the hangover has always been worth it.’
      • ‘It brings down inflammation and numbs pain within an hour, McCaleb says.’
      • ‘The various band members found different ways to numb the pain.’
      • ‘Laughing gas is used by doctors and dentists as an anaesthetic or analgesic to numb pain, sedate and allay anxiety.’
      • ‘Many use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to numb their pain.’
      • ‘The cafe owner comments that he's relieved that crack isn't available in Nablus - he thinks people would turn to it to numb their pain.’
      • ‘But he did give me a sample of Biofreeze - one of those gels that heats up and numbs the pain.’
      • ‘The need to numb the pain of their existence is understood.’
      • ‘Insiders worry that the troubled star may turn his back on his recovery and hit the drugs to numb his pain over the end of the two-month relationship.’
      • ‘Perhaps, though, they were just drinking to numb the pain of being rich and famous.’
      • ‘I'm sure circumcised men are probably far better lovers due to the fact that their sensations are numbed.’
      • ‘He told the police in interview that it would numb the pain at the time but afterwards it would be ‘bad, really bad’.’
      • ‘The growth of drug abuse testifies to the increasing numbers of people wanting to escape their reality, or at least numb its pain.’
      • ‘I found the only thing that numbed the pain was whisky, so I began drinking a bottle a day.’
      • ‘She drank three small glasses of hard liquor first to numb the pain, he said.’
      • ‘We numbed the pain of what was to come by eating and drinking.’
      • ‘It seemed to be numbing the pain, at least temporarily.’
      • ‘People are able to deceive themselves and numb their pain through denial.’
      • ‘The effect of the brew was to stupefy the convict to the point of pseudo-coma and to numb his physical sensations.’
      • ‘Putting ice on your heel or rolling your foot over a can of frozen juice will numb the pain, he says.’
      deaden, deprive of sensation, benumb, desensitize, render insensitive, dull
      anaesthetize, drug
      daze, stun, stupefy, paralyse, petrify, immobilize, freeze, chill
      torpefy, obtund
      View synonyms


Late Middle English nome(n), past participle of obsolete nim ‘take’.