verb (used with object)
- to make deaf: The accident deafened him for life.
- to stun or overwhelm with noise: The pounding of the machines deafened us.
- deaden(def 3).
- Obsolete. to render (a sound) inaudible, especially by a louder sound.
- excessively louddeafening music
- (tr) to make deaf, esp momentarily, as by a loud noise
“very loud,” 1590s, from present participle of deafen (q.v.). Deafening silence is attested by 1830.
1590s, “to make deaf,” from deaf + -en (1). The earlier verb was simply deaf (mid-15c.). For “to become deaf, to grow deaf,” Old English had adeafian (intransitive), which survived into Middle English as deave but then took on a transitive sense from mid-14c. and sank from use except in dialects (where it mostly has transitive and figurative senses), leaving English without an intransitive verb here.
- To make deaf, especially momentarily by a loud noise.