\ˈden(t)s \
denser; densest

Definition of dense 

1a : marked by compactness or crowding together of parts dense vegetation dense traffic

b 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.

2a : slow to understand : stupid, thickheaded was too dense to get the joke

b : extreme dense ignorance

3 mathematics : having between any two elements at least one element The set of rational numbers is dense.

4 : demanding concentration to follow or comprehend dense prose

5 : having high or relatively high opacity (see opacity sense 2) a dense fog a dense photographic negative

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Other Words from dense

densely adverb
denseness \ˈden(t)-​snəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for dense


close, compact, crowded, jam-packed, packed, serried, thick, tight


airy, loose, open, uncrowded

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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

dense, thick, and compact mean having parts that are gathered tightly together. dense is used of something in which the parts are very close together. They lost their way in the dense forest. thick is used of something that has many small parts that form a single mass. He has a thick head of hair. compact is used of something that has a close and firm gathering of parts, especially within a small area. The laptop has a compact design.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Here, the air heated by the candle is less dense than the surrounding atmosphere. Lee Phillips, Ars Technica, "Turbulence, the oldest unsolved problem in physics," 10 Oct. 2018 Plain garden soil is too dense for container gardening. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Container Gardening," 13 Aug. 2018 Last year’s haze was dense, resulting in airport delays due to limited visibility from the wildfire smoke. Agueda Pacheco-flores, The Seattle Times, "British Columbia wildfire smoke is impacting air quality, warnings issued for vulnerable groups," 13 Aug. 2018 This is because plastic itself is less dense than water and tends to float whereas glass is denser than water and therefore sinks. Svenja Lohner, Scientific American, "Floating with a Swim Bladder," 5 July 2018 Trustee James Karagianis said the proposal is too dense, and that the company is requesting too many zoning variations. Alexandra Kukulka,, "Northbrook considers Joy of the Game move, townhome development," 28 June 2018 What doesn't immediately come to mind is all the waterfowl waste New Richmond and other river towns deal with if the feathered population becomes too dense. Bob Strickley,, "3 headlines you may have missed: 💩 in New Richmond, calorie counts, y'all use this app?," 7 May 2018 With vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options that incorporate seasonal produce and nutrient-dense ingredients, customers can experience a menu that is both health-conscious and satisfying without sacrificing flavor or creativity. Joelle Goldstein, The Hollywood Reporter, "Oprah Winfrey Invests in Healthy Restaurant Chain True Food Kitchen," 11 July 2018 However, super-dense, super-cold pockets of air descend and become trapped in tiny depressions, just 6 to 9 feet deep. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "Scientists Record Earth's Lowest Temperature Ever. Here's How Cold It Got," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dense

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

History and Etymology for dense

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

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Dictionary Entries near dense

de novo







Statistics for dense

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dense

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

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More Definitions for dense



English Language Learners Definition of dense

: having parts that are close together

: crowded with people

: not smart : not able to understand things easily


\ˈdens \
denser; densest

Kids Definition of dense

1 : having its parts crowded together : thick dense vegetation dense fog

2 : stupid sense 1 I'm not dense enough to believe this story.

Other Words from dense

densely adverb a densely populated region

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More from Merriam-Webster on dense

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dense

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dense

Spanish Central: Translation of dense

Nglish: Translation of dense for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dense for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dense

What made you want to look up dense? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having a pattern of small flowers

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