adjective \ ˈden(t)s \
|Updated on: 16 Aug 2018

Definition of dense

denser; densest
1 a : marked by compactness or crowding together of parts
  • dense vegetation
  • dense traffic
b chemistry : having a high mass (see 2mass 1c) per unit volume (see 1volume 2)
  • Carbon dioxide is a dense gas.
  • The cake was overly sweet and dense.
2 a : 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 2)
  • a dense fog
  • a dense photographic negative




play \ˈden(t)-snəs\ noun

Examples of dense in a Sentence

  1. They cut a path through the dense jungle.

  2. a dense tangle of wires

  3. a dense cluster of stars

  4. That part of the city has a dense population of immigrants.

  5. A dense mass of spectators filled the courtroom.

  6. In the movie, she plays his kind but somewhat dense aunt.

Recent Examples of dense from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of dense

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

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of dense for English Language Learners

  • : having parts that are close together

  • : crowded with people

  • : not smart : not able to understand things easily

DENSE Defined for Kids


adjective \ ˈdens \

Definition of dense for Students

denser; densest
1 : having its parts crowded together : thick
  • dense vegetation
  • dense fog
2 : stupid 1
  • I'm not dense enough to believe this story.


  • a densely populated region

Synonym Discussion of dense

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.

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fullness to the point of excess

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