[duhm-bel] /ˈdʌmˌbɛl/

a gymnastic apparatus consisting of two wooden or metal balls connected by a short bar serving as a handle, used as a weight for exercising.
a stupid person.
(gymnastics, weightlifting) an exercising weight consisting of a single bar with a heavy ball or disc at either end
a small wooden object shaped like this used in dog training for the dog to retrieve
(slang, mainly US & Canadian) a fool

“weighted bar used for exercise,” 1711, originally an apparatus like that used to ring a church bell, but without the bell (hence dumb); used for exercise but sometimes also to practice ringing changes. Figurative sense of “blockhead, stupid person” attested by 1918, American English college slang.


A stupid person; idiot: She’s an awful dumb-bell

[1918+; fr dumbbell, a kind of weightlifter’s barbell, attested from the 1880s]


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