Definition of dull in English:

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Pronunciation: /dʌl/


1Lacking interest or excitement: your diet doesn’t have to be dull and boring
More example sentences
  • The next day was as boring, mundane, unexciting, humdrum, dull, tedious, uneventful and monotonous as usual.
  • That would add greater interest to an otherwise dull sport, and would mean a large pool of volunteers willing to sweep up the pitch at the final whistle.
  • It was a rare moment of excitement in an otherwise dull match.
uninteresting, boring, tedious, tiresome, wearisome, dry, dry as dust, flat, bland, characterless, featureless, colourless, monotonous, unexciting, uninspiring, unstimulating, lacking variety, lacking variation, lacking excitement, lacking interest, unimaginative, uneventful, lifeless, soulless, insipid;
unoriginal, derivative, commonplace, prosaic, run-of-the-mill, humdrum, unremarkable, banal, lame, plodding, ponderous, pedestrian
informal dull as dishwater, deadly, no great shakes, not up to much
Scottish informal dreich
North American informal dullsville, ornery
1.1 archaic (Of a person) feeling bored and dispirited: she said she wouldn’t be dull and lonely
2Lacking brightness, vividness, or sheen: his face glowed in the dull lamplight his black hair looked dull
More example sentences
  • There's a uniform, dull sheen to the advice received by council.
  • It's now hanging over my desk bringing a little brightness into my otherwise dull room.
  • I use a stick to gingerly push aside the stalks and turn over the debris, picking out the dull sheen of a slug here, the progress of a tiny worm there.
drab, dreary, sombre, dark, subdued, muted, toned down, lacklustre, lustreless, colourless, faded, washed out, muddy, watery, pale
literary subfusc
2.1(Of the weather) overcast; gloomy: next morning dawned dull
More example sentences
  • Only when he had not returned in the early evening - he had no coat and was only wearing a thin cotton shirt even though the weather was dull and showery - did concern start to mount.
  • Film-makers also say the dull weather bathes the vehicle in a soft light preferable to the harsh reflections caused by bright sunlight on shiny metal surfaces.
  • It's been mild, too, and I had the kitchen door wide open until the early evening, much to the delight of the cats, who love to mooch in and out when the weather is dull.
overcast, cloudy, gloomy, dark, dim, dismal, dreary, bleak, sombre, grey, leaden, murky, sunless, louring
literary subfusc
2.2(Of sound) not clear; muffled: a dull thud of hooves
More example sentences
  • At first, the sound is just a dull roar, but then after a while you pick out patterns in the ticking, as the metronomes go in and out of phase with each other.
  • What that means for people nearby is that nights are accompanied by the sound of a dull thud, boom-booming its way around the neighbourhood.
  • There was an uncanny lack of sound for an attack until about fifty yards in front of the gate when the warriors took up a battle cry that sounded like a dull roar.
muffled, muted, quiet, soft, softened, faint, indistinct;
stifled, smothered, suppressed
2.3(Of pain) indistinctly felt; not acute: there was a dull pain in his lower jaw
More example sentences
  • Having said that I know I'm lucky that it only effects a few joints in my fingers and the pain is more a dull ache than a debilitating one.
  • Some women often have tension headaches, which cause squeezing pain or a dull ache on both sides of the head or the back of the neck.
  • After several minutes, the pain subsided to a dull ache in my rib cage.
2.4(Of an edge or blade) blunt: when cutting hard rock the edge soon became dull
More example sentences
  • Using the dull edge of the knife blade, scrape the inside of the top shell in short movements going away from you.
  • Using the dull edge of a knife, scrape any remaining innards from the body.
  • Try removing as much of the label or tape as possible with your fingernail or the dull edge of a knife.
blunt, blunted, not sharp, unkeen, unsharpened, dulled, edgeless, worn down
2.5(Of activity) sluggish or slow-moving: shares closed weaker after a day of dull trading
More example sentences
  • It has to be said, this was a horrendously dull process.
  • I never kept a diary when I was growing up but I did receive them as Christmas presents and loved the idea of documenting my daily and dull doings.
slack, sluggish, flat, slow, slow-moving, quiet, inactive, static, stagnant, depressed
sluggish, lethargic, enervated, unenergetic, listless, languid, torpid, inactive, inert, slow, slow-moving, sleepy, somnolent, drowsy, weary, tired, fatigued, heavy, apathetic
informal dozy, dopey, yawny
North American informal logy
Medicine  asthenic, neurasthenic
archaic lymphatic
3(Of a person) slow to understand; stupid: the voice of a teacher talking to a rather dull child
More example sentences
  • Many parents do not understand Learning Disability and think the children are simply dull.
  • You have to understand, Saffron was not such a dull girl as she's probably worked herself up to be in your cold, critical eyes.
  • It was alleged that slower children were occasionally told to stay away from school on the inspection day and that some dull children were refused admittance to schools altogether.
unintelligent, stupid, slow, dull-witted, slow-witted, witless, doltish, dunce-like, stolid, vacuous, empty-headed, brainless, mindless, foolish, half-witted, idiotic, moronic, imbecilic, cretinous, obtuse
informal dense, dim, dim-witted, thick, thick as two short planks, dumb, dopey, dozy, lamebrained, pig-ignorant, bovine, slow on the uptake, soft in the head, brain-dead, boneheaded, chuckleheaded, dunderheaded, wooden-headed, fat-headed, muttonheaded
British informal daft, not the full shilling
North American vulgar slang dumb-ass
3.1 archaic (Of a person’s senses) not perceiving things distinctly.
Example sentences
  • If I should accede one day to Heaven, it must be there as it is here, except that I will be rid of my dull senses and my heavy bones.
  • I am not particularly strong, I lack speed, my senses are dull in comparison, my eyesight sucks, my sense of smell and that of hearing are almost negligible.
  • In doing so, mankind has become callous and his senses have become dull to the ultimate pleasure this relationship would offer.


Make or become dull or less intense: [with object]: time dulls the memory [no object]: Albert’s eyes dulled a little
More example sentences
  • It has a way of diminishing the shine, dulling the glamour and dampening the sizzle of even the glitziest of clubs.
  • It is a narcotic that dulls the brain and deadens the nerves.
  • Aesthetically, the palette manages something paradoxical: it both intensifies and dulls the impact of onscreen violence.
lessen, decrease, diminish, reduce, dampen, depress, take the edge off, blunt, deaden, mute, soften, tone down, allay, ease, soothe, assuage, alleviate, palliate, moderate, mitigate
numb, benumb, deaden, desensitize, render insensitive, stupefy, daze, stun;
drug, sedate, tranquillize, narcotize
rare torpefy, obtund
fade, pale, bleach, wash out, decolorize, decolour, dim, etiolate
darken, blacken, dim, blur, veil, obscure, shadow, fog
literary bedim
dampen, put a damper on, cast a pall over, cast down, lower, depress, crush, shake, sap, suppress, extinguish, smother, stifle



(as) dull as dishwater (or ditchwater)

British Extremely dull.
Example sentences
  • Hertfordshire South West was dull as ditchwater, Bedford was fairly bland and Suffolk South was a safe seat of the most tedious kind.
  • My option now is to use this boredom to concentrate more on the degree, although the latest book on animal rights is as dull as ditchwater now.
  • Needless to say, it undoubtedly oozes discreet layers of sub-text, but like a lot of dialogue concealing deeply-hidden meanings, it's as dull as dishwater to read or hear unless it's artfully reinterpreted.

dull the edge of

Cause to be less keenly felt; reduce the intensity of: she’d have to find something to dull the edges of the pain
More example sentences
  • However, vibrant as this movement was, the slow and insidious process of co-option began to dull the edge of militancy.
  • A life-threatening crash could not dull the edge of his commitment, and still he cannot walk away completely.
  • In fact, his character is an example how overexposure dulls the edge of comedy.



Pronunciation: /ˈdʌlɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • In fact, autonomy here is about choosing the right man, and not settling for the dullish Lord or Viscount or advertising executive waiting in the wings.
  • Also, it's painted darkish and dullish colours.
  • The rosiness of my cheeks transformed to a dullish gray.


Pronunciation: /ˈdʌlˌli/
Example sentences
  • I let my head fall back as I clapped my hands onto my face, my head throbbing dully and painfully.
  • Oil lamps that dully lit the room enhanced the look of the antiques.
  • Then, he stared dully around him at the wildly cheering crowd.


Old English dol 'stupid', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dol 'crazy' and German toll 'mad, fantastic, wonderful'.

  • doldrums from late 18th century:

    To most people the doldrums refers to a state or period of stagnation or depression, but to sailors it is an equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds. For sailing ships, being becalmed in the doldrums was a serious occupational hazard. The earliest form of the word, in the late 18th century, was singular doldrum, and it meant ‘a dull, sluggish, or stupid person’. It may come from dull, which originally meant ‘stupid’ (Old English).

Words that rhyme with dull

annul, cull, gull, hull, lull, mull, null, scull, skull, Solihull, trull, Tull

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dull

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