Are you dumb or stupid? Huh? Hopefully you’ll know by the end of this article.
What Is The Difference Between “Dumb” And “Stupid”?
In American English, “stupid” and “dumb” mean the same thing: a person who is lacking intelligence. In British English in the past, “dumb” used to mean the same thing as “mute”: someone who doesn’t or can’t talk. However, today, describing such a person as “dumb” would be politically incorrect.
But what makes a person stupid or dumb in America? And why is it suddenly rude to call a mute person dumb in the UK? In this article, we’ll look at how America has influenced English in its home country by looking at stupidity and dumbness.
Stupid And Dumb In American English
What Does It Mean To Be Stupid Or Dumb In America?
“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing it’s stupid”- Albert Einstein.
In America, the words “Stupid” and “dumb” are subjective. However, most people could agree that a person is stupid or dumb if they lack intelligence.
Someone who struggles to do the most basic things in life, or gets bad grades at school might be thought of as dumb.
This has now become the case in England too.
What Are Some Signs Of Stupidity?
Of course, what one person considers a sign of stupidity, another might not. But here are some of the things that might indicate someone isn’t too bright.
Someone who gets bad grades at school. This is a sign that the information they’re being told isn’t getting into their brain too well.
Someone who cannot do basic tasks. We all know someone who can’t even wash a dish or put a wash on.
People who have no idea how to talk to people. The ones who think that women like being told to show their t*ts to strangers.
6 Example Sentences That Use “Dumb” Or “Stupid” To Mean The Opposite Of Clever
- “He was so dumb that he spent $100 in a casino, and started complaing about his human rights when we was arrested”
- “She was so stupid that she lost £100 to her boyfriend who then cheated on another woman”
- “The president is dumb. He doesn’t care about the people he represents, he couldn’t even drive a truck”
- “The Prime Minister is stupid. I doubt he’d even be able to pass a basic maths test”
- “Well that’s just dumb! If you do that, you’ll end up being both wet and sad!”
- “Now you’re being stupid! Go there and you’ll be dirty and miserable”
Dumb In British English
What Did It Mean To Be Dumb In Britain?
In the UK, stupid has always meant someone who lacked intelligence, however, there was a time when “dumb” did not mean “stupid” all it meant was mute.
Mute people are those who do not talk. Most of the time, this is because they are deaf. However, some physical and mental conditions prevent people from speaking.
Of course, many of these people are perfectly clever enough, and most of them lead happy and meaningful lives. So it would be immoral and inaccurate to describe these people as stupid.
Why Is “Dumb” No Longer Politically Correct In England?
Most of you know that English started in England. However, what many people, even many Americans don’t realise is that American English has also influenced the mother tongue.
In American movies and TV shows, which plenty of Brits enjoy, the word “dumb” gets used to describe “stupid”. Because of this, many Brits no longer associate the word “dumb” with being mute.
They have instead adopted the American definition.
Because of this, calling a mute person “dumb” is now seen as offensive in England as many people hear that word and assume it means “stupid”. Other words that used to be fine but no longer are include r*tard, half-caste, and the n-word which rhymes with “we grow”.
5 Example Sentences That Use “Dumb” To Mean Mute
- “My friend is a very clever man. Just because he’s dumb, that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of doing great things”
- “I had to learn sign language because my son in law is deaf and dumb. He can lip read, but I want to make him feel welcome into our family”
- “Dumb people should be given as much help as deaf people. Unfortunately, one is recognised as a disability, and the other is misunderstood as a choice”
- “He is not dumb. He just chooses not to talk”
- “My sister is dumb, but she is much smarter than me”
Words With “Dumb” As The Suffix
The word “dumb” has also found its way into being the suffix of plenty of other words. Here’s a list of some words with the word “dumb”.
– A model of a human being (Crash test dummy)
– A stupid person (He’s such a dummy)
– A mock-up (It was only a dummy machine. But it looked great)
– A fake pass in sports (I thought he was passing it, but it was a dummy)
– What babies suck on in England (He wouldn’t sleep without his dummy.
To be so shocked you can’t talk
A phone that cannot connect to the internet (parody of smartphone)
Reduce the number of workers (parody of downsize)
- Dumb Down
Make something easier to understand.
What Does “I May Be Dumb, But I’m Not Stupid” Mean?
Maybe you’ve clicked on this article because you’ve heard someone say “I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid”. This is a funny phrase that’s supposed to be self-deprecating.
It’s also a way of saying that you might be dumb, but you’re not quite as dumb as the other person seems to think you are.
Usually, it’s said between friends.
And there we have it. The differences between stupid and dumb.
In America, the two words mean the same thing- the opposite of clever.
In England in the past, stupid was when you lacked intelligence. But dumb was simply someone who did not speak. But today, England have adopted America’s definition of “dumb” are therefore no longer use it to describe mute people.
But if you’re reading an old English text and you see the word “dumb”, you’ll know that nobody is calling anybody stupid, but they are just talking about those who cannot talk.
You may also like: Is “Dumb” a Bad Word? Meaning Explained (+Good Synonyms)
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.