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Submitted by Sheila Éthier on February 12, 2024, at 12:04

Thank you for your question!

In the case of “climb,” the original Anglo-Saxon verb was climban, and the “b” was pronounced. But over time, the ending “an” was dropped, and the “b” that remained became silent.

Other words like “climb,” in which the “b” was originally pronounced but is now silent, include “tomb” (from Old French tombe) and “jamb” (from Old French jambe).

In the case of certain other words ending in “mb,” there was actually no “b” in the original word; but one was later added! Examples include “thumb” and “numb.”

So, as you can see, there are different reasons (not all of them logical) why we have a group of English words ending in “m + silent b”!

Sheila Éthier