Definition of dull in English:


Line breaks: dull
Pronunciation: /dʌl


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, depressedsluggish, 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


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(as) dull as dishwater (or ditchwater)

British Extremely dull.
More 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.



More 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.


(also dulness) noun
More example sentences
  • Although, perhaps the dullness could have its advantages.
  • Will this diary disintegrate into dullness and esoterica?
  • The author reads the memoir that covers his years in Britain, then immigration to the dullness of Wellington in the 50s.


Pronunciation: /ˈdʌlˌli/
More 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'.

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