Dumb vs Confound - What's the difference?

dumb | confound |

As verbs the difference between dumb and confound

is that dumb is to silence while confound is to confuse; to mix up; to puzzle.

As an adjective dumb

is (label) unable to speak; lacking power of speech.

As a noun confound is

(statistics) a confounding variable.



Etymology 1

From (etyl) dumb, from (etyl) . In ordinary spoken English, a phrase like "He is dumb" is interpreted as "He is stupid" rather than "He lacks the power of speech". The latter example, however, is the original sense of the word. The senses of stupid'', ''unintellectual'', and ''pointless developed under the influence of the (etyl) word dumm.


  • (label) Unable to speak; lacking power of speech.
  • * Hooker
  • to unloose the very tongues even of dumb creatures
  • (label) Silent; unaccompanied by words.
  • dumb show
  • * Shakespeare
  • This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
  • *
  • * J. C. Shairp
  • to pierce into the dumb past
  • extremely stupid.
  • You are so dumb ! You don't even know how to make toast!
  • (label) Pointless, foolish, lacking intellectual content or value.
  • This is dumb ! We're driving in circles! We should have asked for directions an hour ago!
    Brendan had the dumb job of moving boxes from one conveyor belt to another.
  • Lacking brightness or clearness, as a colour.
  • * De Foe
  • Her stern was painted of a dumb white or dun color.
    * (unable to speak) dumbstruck, mute, speechless, wordless * (stupid) feeble-minded, idiotic, moronic, stupid * banal, brainless, dopey, silly, stupid, ridiculous, vulgar
    Derived terms
    * dumb as a box of rocks * dumben * dumbhood * dummy * dumbness

    Etymology 2

    From (etyl) dumbien, from (etyl) dumbian (more commonly in compound .


    (en verb)
  • To silence.
  • * 1911 , Lindsay Swift, William Lloyd Garrison , p. 272,
  • The paralysis of the Northern conscience, the dumbing of the Northern voice, were coming to an end.
  • To make stupid.
  • * 2003 , Angela Calabrese Barton, Teaching Science for Social Justice , p. 124,
  • I think she's dumbing us down, so we won't be smarter than her.
  • To represent as stupid.
  • * 2004 , Stephen Oppenheimer, The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey Out of Africa , p. 107,
  • Bad-mouthing Neanderthals . . . is symptomatic of a need to exclude and even demonize. . . . I suggest that the unproven dumbing of the Neanderthals is an example of the same cultural preconception.
  • To reduce the intellectual demands of.
  • * 2002 , Deborah Meier, In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing , p. 126,
  • The ensuing storm caused the department to lower the bar—amid protests that this was dumbing the test down—so that only 80 percent of urban kids would fail.
    Derived terms
    * dumbness * dumb blonde * dumb down * dumbocracy * dumb-show * dumb terminal * dummy * play dumb




    (en verb)
  • To confuse; to mix up; to puzzle.
  • *{{quote-news
  • , year=2012 , date=June 29 , author=Kevin Mitchell , title=Roger Federer back from Wimbledon 2012 brink to beat Julien Benneteau , work=the Guardian citation , page= , passage=The fightback when it came was in the Federer fashion: unfussy, filled with classy strokes from the back with perfectly timed interventions at the net that confounded his opponent. The third set passed in a bit of a blur, the fourth, which led to the second tie-break, was the most dramatic of the match. }}
  • * 1830 , , i, 34,
  • And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words.
  • To fail to see the difference; to mix up; to confuse right and wrong.
  • * 1651 (Latin edition 1642), ,
  • Hey who lesse seriously consider the force of words, doe sometimes confound' Law with Counsell, sometimes with Covenant, sometimes with Right. They ' confound Law with Counsell, who think, that it is the duty of Monarchs not onely to give ear to their Counsellours, but also to obey them, as though it were in vaine to take Counsell, unlesse it were also followed.
  • To make something worse.
  • Don't confound the situation by yelling.
  • * 1983 , Carol M. Anderson, Susan Stewart, Mastering Resistance: A Practical Guide to Family Therapy ,
  • While she had obeyed him, smiling sweetly all the time, she had nursed a growing resentment of what she called his "Latin American macho attitude." To confound the problem, his mother, who lived with them on and off, was described by the wife as being as domineering as her son.
  • To cause to be ashamed; to abash.
  • His actions confounded the skeptics.
  • To defeat, to frustrate, to thwart.
  • * 1769 , King James Bible, Oxford Standard text, , i, 27,
  • But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound' the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to ' confound the things which are mighty;
  • * Traditional, date and author unknown, ,
  • O Lord, our God, arise, / Scatter thine enemies, / And make them fall / Confound their politics, / Frustrate their knavish tricks, / On thee our hopes we fix: / God save us all.
  • * 1848 February 12, ,
  • I am now, in order the better to confound your politics, going to give you a true account of the means we intend to use, and of the rules, signs, and pass-words of our new United Irish Society Lodge A. 1.—They are so simple that you will never believe them.
  • (dated) To damn (a mild oath ).
  • Confound you!
    Confound the lady!
  • * 1882 , '' in ''The Gully of Bluemansdyke and Other Stories ,
  • "Number 43 is no better, Doctor," said the head-warder, in a slightly reproachful accent, looking in round the corner of my door.
    "Confound 43!" I responded from behind the pages of the Australian Sketcher .
  • *1877 , (Anna Sewell), (Black Beauty) Chapter 23[http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Black_Beauty/23]
  • *:"Confound these bearing reins!" he said to himself; "I thought we should have some mischief soon—master will be sorely vexed;
  • (archaic) To bring to ruination.
  • To stun, amaze
  • Synonyms

    * confuse * mix up * puzzle


    (en noun)
  • (statistics) a confounding variable
  • Synonyms

    * confounder