denser; densest
: marked by compactness or crowding together of parts
dense vegetation
dense traffic
chemistry : having a high mass (see mass entry 2 sense 1c) per unit volume (see volume entry 1 sense 2)
Carbon dioxide is a dense gas.
The cake was overly sweet and dense.
: slow to understand : stupid, thickheaded
was too dense to get the joke
: extreme
dense ignorance
mathematics : having between any two elements at least one element
The set of rational numbers is dense.
: demanding concentration to follow or comprehend
dense prose
: having high or relatively high opacity (see opacity sense 2)
a dense fog
a dense photographic negative
densely adverb
denseness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for dense

stupid, dull, dense, crass, dumb mean lacking in power to absorb ideas or impressions.

stupid implies a slow-witted or dazed state of mind that may be either congenital or temporary.

stupid students just keeping the seats warm
stupid with drink

dull suggests a slow or sluggish mind such as results from disease, depression, or shock.

monotonous work that leaves the mind dull

dense implies a thickheaded imperviousness to ideas.

too dense to take a hint

crass suggests a grossness of mind precluding discrimination or delicacy.

a crass, materialistic people

dumb applies to an exasperating obtuseness or lack of comprehension.

too dumb to figure out what's going on

Examples of dense in a Sentence

They cut a path through the dense jungle. a dense tangle of wires a dense cluster of stars That part of the city has a dense population of immigrants. A dense mass of spectators filled the courtroom. In the movie, she plays his kind but somewhat dense aunt. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Many people maintain that Julieta flies every night to the vast Tijuca urban forest, crossing four kilometers of dense city. Terrence McCoy, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2023 This is an excellent push to use in dense cover (swamps, marshes, and clearcuts) but can be adapted to most any habitat. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 22 Nov. 2023 Maestro is not a particularly long or dense picture. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 22 Nov. 2023 Extreme weather caused by global warming has for years increased the threat of raging wildfires across the American West, with extreme heat and drought turning dense forests into powder kegs. Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2023 We were impressed by the overall construction and appreciated that the cushion fill was dense and substantial. Kathleen Felton, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Nov. 2023 The insulation feels thick and dense, while the continuous compartment leaves your fingers feeling anything but cramped. Jen Ator, Travel + Leisure, 19 Nov. 2023 Their advantages over electric bikes in dense urban areas are fewer and the barriers to entry higher. Michael Barnard, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Surrounded by mountains and shaggy, dense boreal forest, the area is home to diverse wildlife including moose, caribou, and American black bears. Clem De Pressigny, Vogue, 8 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dense.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin densus; akin to Greek dasys thick with hair or leaves

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dense was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near dense

Cite this Entry

“Dense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


denser; densest
: marked by closeness or crowding together of parts
a dense forest
: having a high mass per unit volume
lead is a very dense metal
: slow to understand : stupid sense 1a
: thick entry 1 sense 4
dense fog
: having between any two mathematical elements at least one element
the set of rational numbers is dense
densely adverb
denseness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on dense

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