Definition for DEAF

DEAF, a. [deef; Sax. deaf; Ice. dauf; D. doof; G. taub; Dan. döv; Sw. döf; D. dooven; to quench or stifle; Dan. döver, to deafen; coinciding with Ch. טפא, to extinguish. L. stipo; Fr. etouffer, to stuff. Hence we say, thick of hearing. The true English pronunciation of this word is deef, as appears from the poetry of Chaucer, who uniformly makes it rhyme with leaf; and this proof is confirmed by poetry in the works of Sir W. Temple. Such was the pronunciation which our ancestors brought from England. The word is in analogy with leaf, sheaf, and the long sound of the vowels naturally precedes the semi-vowel f. Def, from the Danish and Swedish pronunciation, is an anomaly in English of a singular kind, there being not another word like it in the language. See Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Prologue.]

  1. Not perceiving sounds; not receiving impressions from sonorous bodies through the air; as, a deaf ear.
  2. Wanting the sense of hearing; having organs which do not perceive sounds; as, a deaf man. It is followed by to before that which ought to be heard; as deaf to the voice of the orator. Blind are their eyes, their ears are deaf, / Nor hear when mortals pray; / Mortals that wait for their relief, / Are blind and deaf as they. – Watts, Ps. 135.
  3. In a metaphorical sense, not listening; not regarding; not moved, persuaded or convinced; rejecting; as, deaf to reason or arguments. Men are deaf to calls of the Gospel.
  4. Without the ability or will to regard spiritual things; unconcerned; as, hear, ye deaf. – Is. xlii.
  5. Deprived of the power of hearing; deafened; as, deaf with clamor.
  6. Stifled; imperfect; obscurely heard; as, a deaf noise or murmur. – Dryden.

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