Definition of numb in US English:



  • 1Deprived of the power of sensation.

    ‘my feet were numb with cold’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You're standing beside a beer cooler on the bank of a frozen Siberian river, and your nose is numb with cold.’
    • ‘Those stuck behind the police are arrested and dragged away in plastic ziplock handcuffs that hurt like hell and make your hands go numb.’
    • ‘I lay there still in a numb daze from the shock of Mike's mysterious and sudden death.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When the door opened and she said hello, I nearly went numb with shock.’
    • ‘McKeown says he felt numb when the verdict came through.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 still felt numb and unfeeling, as if nothing that was happening was real.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I just then began to finally feel that I was freezing; the numb feeling must have worn away.’
    • ‘I then begin to feel numb, but this side-effect is temporary.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He woke numb and cold, inside a carved hole in the rock.’
    • ‘I awoke to find this numb sensation in my left arm, and a horrible headache.’
    • ‘Anna came in saying that she felt emotionally numb.’
    • ‘But now that his marriage has broken up, he feels numb again.’
    • ‘He reached to grab the rifle but could not because his forearm felt numb and dead.’
    deprived of sensation, without feeling, numbed, benumbed, dead, deadened, desensitized, insensible, insensate, senseless, unfeeling
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    1. 1.1 Unable to think, feel, or respond normally.
      ‘the tragic events left us shocked and numb’
      • ‘It's surprising that one event follows another in such a way that we are left totally numb.’
      • ‘I had been in a meeting with an artist and was left totally numb.’


[with object]
  • 1Deprive of feeling or responsiveness.

    ‘the cold had numbed her senses’
    • ‘And so she bravely walked down 2nd Avenue, fighting the elements, the cold wind numbing her soft little fingers.’
    • ‘It was glacial in my hands, and the cold metal numbed them.’
    • ‘A mixture of nerves and cold numbed my fingers and my mind.’
    • ‘Then all I remember is cold, such cold it numbed me to my very bones.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The cold stone numbs my bare feet. Gathering my nightdress up I climb up onto the balcony wall.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Several struck him, piercing his armor and numbing his limbs with cold, but the stoic fighter shrugged it off and rushed the foe again.’
    • ‘Fishing out her key, she inserted it in the lock, her movements jerky, the cold finally numbing her muscles.’
    • ‘A painful headache numbed his senses, and his nose was so clogged up he couldn't speak correctly.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Are their senses numbed by visual culture, we wonder, or are they simply getting the programmes they deserve?’
    • ‘Cold air numbed her bare fingers and she held them close to her, putting her hands in the pockets of her coat.’
    • ‘I felt my lungs fill up with water, I could feel the cold numbing my body.’
    • ‘Lia washed her hands, the cold water numbing her fingertips.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If the alcohol hadn't numbed my senses I'd have been rolling on the floor.’
    deadening, desensitizing, benumbing, anaesthetizing, anaesthetic
    freezing, glacial, raw, piercing, cutting, bitter, arctic, polar
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    1. 1.1 Cause (a sensation) to be felt less intensely; deaden.
      ‘vodka might numb the pain in my hand’
      • ‘Many use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to numb their pain.’
      • ‘The effect of the brew was to stupefy the convict to the point of pseudo-coma and to numb his physical sensations.’
      • ‘The growth of drug abuse testifies to the increasing numbers of people wanting to escape their reality, or at least numb its pain.’
      • ‘However, being drunk has always numbed my pain, and for that, the hangover has always been worth it.’
      • ‘Putting ice on your heel or rolling your foot over a can of frozen juice will numb the pain, he says.’
      • ‘It seemed to be numbing the pain, at least temporarily.’
      • ‘Laughing gas is used by doctors and dentists as an anaesthetic or analgesic to numb pain, sedate and allay anxiety.’
      • ‘The various band members found different ways to numb the 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.’
      • ‘I found the only thing that numbed the pain was whisky, so I began drinking a bottle a day.’
      • ‘It brings down inflammation and numbs pain within an hour, McCaleb says.’
      • ‘He told the police in interview that it would numb the pain at the time but afterwards it would be ‘bad, really bad’.’
      • ‘She drank three small glasses of hard liquor first to numb the pain, he said.’
      • ‘People are able to deceive themselves and numb their pain through denial.’
      • ‘I'm sure circumcised men are probably far better lovers due to the fact that their sensations are numbed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The need to numb the pain of their existence is understood.’
      • ‘Perhaps, though, they were just drinking to numb the pain of being rich and famous.’
      • ‘We numbed the pain of what was to come by eating and drinking.’
      • ‘But he did give me a sample of Biofreeze - one of those gels that heats up and numbs the pain.’
      deaden, deprive of sensation, benumb, desensitize, render insensitive, dull
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Late Middle English nome(n), past participle of obsolete nim ‘take’.