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stupefy, v.

Pronunciation:  /ˈstjuːpɪfaɪ/
Forms:  Also 16 stupefie, 16–17 stupifie, 15–18 stupify.(Show Less)
Etymology:  < French stupéfi-er (16th cent.), < Latin stupefacĕre to make stupid or senseless, < stupēre to be struck senseless, be amazed: see -fy suffix.

The spelling with i (compare liquify) was common until the latter half of the 19th cent. ‘This word should‥be spelled stupefy; but the authorities are against it’ (Johnson).


 a. trans. To make stupid or torpid; to deprive of apprehension, feeling, or sensibility; to benumb, deaden.

?a1600    in Lyly's Wks. (1902) III. 497   Twas not Tobacco stupifyed ye braine.
a1616    Shakespeare Cymbeline (1623) i. v. 37   Those [drugs] she ha's, Will stupifie and dull the Sence a-while.
1651    Hermeticall Banquet 69   This by the narcoticall Sulphur of the Opium, stupefied the Nerve.
1709    T. Robinson Vindic. Mosaick Syst. 56 in Ess. Nat. Hist. Westmorland,   That any one‥should be so stupified by the Prevalency of his Lusts, as to deny the Being of that God, whose [etc.].
1732    J. Arbuthnot Pract. Rules of Diet iii. 359   Opiat and anodyne Substances, which stupify and relax the Fibres.
1806    J. Beresford Miseries Human Life I. vi. 121   Your fingers being‥stupified by the cold.
1849    T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. v. 666   The prisoner, stupified by illness, was unable‥to understand what passed.
1889    M. Oliphant Poor Gentleman xlv,   His anxiety stupefied instead of quickening his senses.
1874    C. H. Spurgeon Treasury of David IV. Ps. lxxxi. 26   No dulness should ever stupify our psalmody.

?a1600—1889(Hide quotations)


 b. absol.

1691    J. Hartcliffe Treat. Virtues 81   As nothing doth restore us more to our selves, when we faint and are weary, than Sleep soberly taken, so nothing doth more stupifie, than its Excess.
1707    J. Floyer Physician's Pulse-watch 81   If the Bath be so long continu'd as to stupifie.
a1848    W. A. Butler Serm. ix. (1849) 149   Satan,‥who deceives that he may destroy, stupifies that he may deceive.

1691—a1848(Hide quotations)


 2. To stun with amazement, fear, or the like; to astound.  [So Latin.]

1596    Spenser Second Pt. Faerie Queene v. iii. 17   With great amazement they were stupefide.
1622    G. de Malynes Consuetudo 337   The apprehension of the continuance of intollerable Vsurie in England, is able to stupifie a mans senses.
1779    Mirror No. 11. ⁋13   He sat, stupified with shame and remorse.
1796    F. Burney Camilla III. vi. iii. 175   ‘If she is not in the rooms to-night,’ said Sir Sedley, ‘I shall be stupified to petrifaction.’
1845    C. Darwin Jrnl. (ed. 2) viii. 171   The mind is stupified in thinking over the long, absolutely necessary, lapse of years.
1909    Engl. Rev. Feb. 602   All these people seem stupefied by the immensity of the calamity which has befallen them.

1596—1909(Hide quotations)


3. To deprive (a material substance) of mobility. Obs. rare—1.

a1626    Bacon Physiol. Remains in Baconiana (1679) 100   This stupifieth the Quick-silver that it runneth no more.
a1626    Bacon Physiol. Remains in Baconiana (1679) 122   When it‥is not fluent, but stupified.

a1626—a1626(Hide quotations)


 4. intr. To become stupid or torpid; to grow dull or insensible. Now rare.

1609    J. Donne Let. in Poems (1633) 365,   I which live in the Country without stupifying, am not in darknesse, but in shadow.
1803    M. Charlton Wife & Mistress III. 47   Do not go and stupify with such an old illuminée as the Dowager Lady Melville.
1844    Syd. Smith in Lady Holland Mem. (1855) II. 523,   I always fatten and stupefy on such diet; I want to lose flesh and gain understanding.

1609—1844(Hide quotations)




  ˈstupefying n. and adj.

1611    R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues,   Noix vomique,‥is of a poisonous, deadly, and stupifying qualitie.
a1637    B. Jonson Sad Shepherd ii. viii. 45 in Wks. (1640) III,   The dead-numming Night-shade! The stupifying Hemlock!
1673    W. Penn Christian-Quaker xx. 585   The Stupifyings of Sin.
1731    P. Miller Gardeners Dict. at Wine,   The Effects they have upon the human Body are rather stupifying than inebriating.
a1768    T. Secker Serm. (1770) IV. 27   The benumbing and stupefying of so important a Principle of their Nature.
1863    M. Howitt tr. F. Bremer Greece & Greeks II. xvi. 155   A cave, out of which‥a stupefying exhalation ascended.
1916    Blackwood's Mag. May 607/1   The views obtained are almost stupefying in their majesty and grandeur.

1611—1916(Hide quotations)


Additions series 1993-7


  ˈstupefyingly adv.

1961    in Webster  
1979    P. Roth Ghost Writer (1980) i. 17   It became altogether clear just how stupefyingly unsuited he was to have and to hold anything other than his art.
1981    M. Hatfield Spy Fever i. 46   He had got stupefyingly drunk.

1961—1981(Hide quotations)


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    Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010

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