What does this word mean? I heard this in the following sentence:

He is a dumb-witted. He never speaks.

  • Perhaps you misheard? This sentence is ungrammatical, and I have never heard the expression "dumb-witted". A fairly common expression is "dim-witted", which is an adjective. So maybe it was "He is dim-witted" or "He is a dim-witted person"?
    – akedrou
    Sep 4, 2015 at 4:54
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    No, it's in the Godfather. @akedrou
    – Maulik V
    Sep 4, 2015 at 5:15
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    See also: Eggcorn Forum / "dumb-witted" and "dum witted" for "dim-witted". Also notes that the common usage is dim-witted for the adjective, and dimwit for the noun. -- The fact that you heard it as "He is a dumb-witted." makes me wonder where you heard it and/or who said it. Sep 4, 2015 at 5:21
  • Cool, that's fascinating! @DamkerngT. Though, the given sentence remains ungrammatical. It's probably meant to be "He is dumb-witted"
    – akedrou
    Sep 4, 2015 at 5:29

1 Answer 1


IMO, it means foolish + sluggish. I tried to find the entry in routine dictionaries I refer but could not.

However, Urban Dictionary mentions it (note that it doesn't use the hyphen)

Someone who is really stupid or foolish

The term is used in the Godfather

All my respect DON CICCIO. DON CICCIO you killed my husband because he wouldn't give into you. And his oldest son PAOLO -- because he swore revenge. But VITO is only nine. And dumb-witted, He never speaks.

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    Interesting. Looking through some ngram data, it looks like it's just a misuse, where because "dim-witted" means "dumb" people assume the expression is "dumb-witted" and say it like that. It definitely has been used enough to be an expression itself and has been around forever, though I'd never heard it before!
    – akedrou
    Sep 4, 2015 at 5:25
  • @MaulikV I think the spelling of give into is strange. Sep 4, 2015 at 5:27
  • Nice catch, MaulikV. Indeed I come across the phrase while re-watching the Godfather movie. It appeared in subtitles. I presume the phrase is very informal... Sep 4, 2015 at 18:35

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