Etymology
Advertisement

Words related to dull

*dheu- (1)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "dust, vapor, smoke." 

It forms all or part of: enthymeme; fewmet; fume; fumigation; funk; perfume; sfumato; typhoid; typhoon; typhus.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit dhuma- "smoke, fume;" Greek thymos "spirit, courage, anger," thymiao "fumigate," thymin "incense;" Latin fumus "smoke, steam, fume;" Lithuanian dūmai "smoke" (plural); Old Prussian dumis "smoke;" Old Church Slavonic dymu "smoke;" Middle Irish dumacha "fog;" perhaps Old High German toum "steam, vapor."

Advertisement
dullard (n.)

"stupid person, dunce, simpleton," mid-15c. (but early 13c. as a surname), from dull (adj.) + -ard.

dullsville 

also Dullsville, "town where nothing happens," 1960, slang, from dull (adj.) + place-name ending -ville.

dully (adv.)

"in a dull manner, stupidly," early 15c., from dull (adj.) + -ly (2).

stupid (adj.)

1540s, "mentally slow, lacking ordinary activity of mind, dull, inane," from French stupide (16c.) and directly from Latin stupidus "amazed, confounded; dull, foolish," literally "struck senseless," from stupere "be stunned, amazed, confounded," from PIE *stupe- "hit," from root *(s)teu- (1) "to push, stick, knock, beat" (see steep (adj.)). Related: Stupidly; stupidness.

Native words for this idea include negative compounds with words for "wise" (Old English unwis, unsnotor, ungleaw), also dol (see dull (adj.)), and dysig (see dizzy (adj.)). Stupid retained its association with stupor and its overtones of "stunned by surprise, grief, etc." into mid-18c. The difference between stupid and the less opprobrious foolish roughly parallels that of German töricht vs. dumm but does not exist in most European languages.

doldrums (n.)

by 1803, "low spirits, the blues, the dumps," colloquial, probably from dulled, past participle of dull (v.) in the sense of "make (someone) slow-witted," with ending perhaps patterned on tantrum.

DEAR girl, from noise and London city,
I'm here among the blithe and witty;
Where young and old, from ev'ry clime,
Like adepts, learn to murder Time!
If you've the doldrums or ennui,
Forsake the town and come to me.
[from "A Marine Picture" in The Spirit of the Public Journals for 1802, London, 1803]

Transferred sense, in reference to sailing ships, "in a becalmed condition, unable to make headway" is by 1824. This was extended in nautical use to parts of the sea near the equator that abound in calms, squalls, and light, baffling winds (1848) and the weather characteristic of these parts. "Apparently due to a misunderstanding of the phrase 'in the doldrums', the state being taken as a locality" [OED].

dolt (n.)

"dull, stupid fellow," 1540s, perhaps a variant of dold "dull, foolish" (mid-15c.), influenced by dulte, dolte, past-participle forms of Middle English dullen "to dull; make or become dazed or stupid" (see dull (v.)). Related: Doltish "foolish, stupid" (1540s); doltishly; doltishness.