\ ˈdim \
dimmer; dimmest

Definition of dim 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a : emitting or having a limited or insufficient amount of light dim stars a dim lamp a dim hallway
b : dull, lusterless dim colors
c : lacking pronounced, clear-cut, or vigorous quality or character a dim echo of the past
2a : seen indistinctly a dim outline
b : perceived by the senses or mind indistinctly or weakly : faint had only a dim notion of what was going on
c : having little prospect of favorable result or outcome a dim future
d : characterized by an unfavorable, skeptical, or pessimistic attitude usually used in the phrase take a dim view of takes a dim view of human nature
3 : not perceiving clearly and distinctly dim eyes
4 : dim-witted too dim to understand the joke


dimmed; dimming

Definition of dim (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to make dim or lusterless dimmed their hopes of an early settlement
2 : to reduce the light from dim the headlights

intransitive verb

: to become dim the lights dimmed their beauty had dimmed



Definition of dim (Entry 3 of 4)

1 archaic : dusk, dimness
2 automotive vehicles : low beam

Definition of dim (Entry 4 of 4)

1 dimension
2 diminished
3 diminuendo
4 diminutive

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from dim


dimly adverb
dimmable \ ˈdi-​mə-​bəl \ adjective
dimness noun

Examples of dim in a Sentence


Just the dim outline of the building could be seen through the fog. I have a dim memory of your last visit.


The latest setback has dimmed hopes of an early settlement. Hopes of an early settlement have dimmed.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Interiors should never feel dim or cramped, but rather, light, open, and airy. Sienna Fantozzi, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About Coastal Design," 2 Nov. 2018 Known for its seductive dim lighting and sleek, elegant interior, Le Turtle has quickly become something of an LES institution. Tara Lamont-djite, Harper's BAZAAR, "What to Wear Around One of New York City’s Coolest Neighborhoods," 8 Oct. 2018 The lighting is dim, and colorful artwork sets the tone for the excellent—if a bit pricey—hand-roasted blends from Guatemala, Peru, and Papua New Guinea. Katie Lockhart, Condé Nast Traveler, "11 Best Places For Coffee in Bangkok," 18 Oct. 2018 But The Favourite’s soul feels Lanthimosian to the core, with a dim view of human nature and the sense that human relationships are always, at root, about power. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos on why his films aren’t as mean as people say," 21 Nov. 2018 Neither bill has Democratic support, and prospects for the second one passing appeared dim, although the White House still supports it. Philip Rucker And David Weigel, chicagotribune.com, "Trump advocates depriving immigrants living in the U.S. illegally of due-process rights," 24 June 2018 Neither bill has Democratic support, and prospects for the second one passing appeared dim, although the White House still supports it. Philip Rucker, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump advocates depriving undocumented immigrants of due-process rights," 24 June 2018 The prospects for legislative action on data privacy this year appear dim. Deepa Seetharaman, WSJ, "Harvester of Facebook Data Wants Tighter Controls Over Privacy," 19 June 2018 However, the prospect of Palestinian interest in the peace proposal appears dim. Matthew Lee, Fox News, "Trump's Mideast team to push peace plan in region," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Chinese consumers, especially in cities, feel stretched, dimming the prospects for a quick boost. WSJ, "Chinese Consumers Curb Spending, Likely Deepening Slowdown," 3 Jan. 2019 But his radio show went nowhere and his book deal dimmed; maybe his old friend President Trump could do a little favor for him. Nick Corasaniti, New York Times, "On Stage Was Springsteen, in the Audience, Chris Christie," 18 Jan. 2018 The claim was controversial because such multidecadal dimming seems next to impossible. Kimberly Cartier, Scientific American, "Have Aliens Built Huge Structures around Boyajian’s Star?," 1 May 2017 Now, two months later, the cameras have retreated; the spotlight has dimmed; and driving to run errands or visit family has gone from novelty to normalcy for Saudi women. Sarah Khan, Condé Nast Traveler, "Driving On Her Own in Saudi Arabia," 17 Aug. 2018 Before passing out, a person may feel lightheaded, dizzy or maybe even a bit euphoric, and vision may dim. Author: Denise Grady, Jan Hoffman, Anchorage Daily News, "States turn to an unproven method of execution: nitrogen gas," 8 May 2018 The financial tensions in Italy, the eurozone’s third-largest economy behind Germany and France, are compounding an already dimming global economic outlook, partly due to U.S. trade tensions with China and the EU. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "Italy’s Big Budget, Designed to Help Business, Is Hurting It," 21 Nov. 2018 One way is to watch as these planets pass between their host star and Earth — what’s known as a transit — which slightly dims the star’s light. Loren Grush, The Verge, "A cold ‘super-Earth’ may live around a nearby star," 14 Nov. 2018 This is called the transit method: The star’s light momentarily dims when a planet, in orbit around a star, crosses in front of it. Brian Resnick, Vox, "NASA retired Kepler, a telescope that discovered thousands of worlds beyond our solar system," 1 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Not because our desire for justice dims, but because the chance of achieving it does. Fox News, "Tucker: Brett Kavanaugh and the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party," 18 Sep. 2018 David would drive to JPL's dim, theater-like mission-control room to get started, and Bryn would find things for the kids to do—taking them on late-night bike rides, to diners and all-night bowling alleys. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Inside the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: NASA's Crazy, Kooky, Legendary Research Facility," 3 Nov. 2016 From Earth, the immense stone appears as a dim yellow dot. Fox News, "'Monster' asteroid 4 times than the UK is so close to Earth you can see it - and here's how," 27 June 2018 Our next stop, Golden Paramount, was a different kind of dim-sum experience. Taras Grescoe, New York Times, "The Best Asian Food in North America? Try British Columbia," 4 June 2018 The house lights dim, an engine roars, and stars flame and flicker out. New York Times, "Three Journeys Under the Radar: Trippy, Unsettling and Affectionate," 11 Jan. 2018 The real question is much tougher to answer: If LaBeouf’s instability informs his acting, will damping the one dim the other? Matthew Brookes, Esquire, "Shia LaBeouf Is Ready To Talk About It," 13 Mar. 2018 With hopes for a broad budget agreement dim, Congress is expected to pass yet another short-term stopgap measure despite resistance from Republican deficit hawks and Democrats who want to cut a deal on immigration legislation. The New York Times, New York Times, "Big U.S. Trade Gap Expected, and European Stimulus Plan at Issue," 4 Feb. 2018 Norwegian programmer and YouTuber Bjørn Nyland highlights an experiment in highway lights that auto-dim when nobody's around. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Highway Lights Save Energy by Dimming When No Cars Are Around," 4 Jan. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of dim


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dim

Adjective, Verb, and Noun

Middle English, from Old English dimm; akin to Old High German timber dark

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dim

Dictionary Entries near dim







dim bulb

Statistics for dim

Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dim

The first known use of dim was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dim



English Language Learners Definition of dim

: to make (a light) less bright or to become less bright

: to make (something) less strong or clear or to become less strong or clear


\ ˈdim \
dimmer; dimmest

Kids Definition of dim

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not bright or distinct : faint a dim light
2 : not seeing or understanding clearly dim eyes He has only a dim awareness of the problem.

Other Words from dim

dimly adverb
dimness noun


dimmed; dimming

Kids Definition of dim (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make or become less bright or clear Please dim the lights. His eyesight dimmed with age.

Medical Definition of dim 


Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on dim

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dim

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dim

Spanish Central: Translation of dim

Nglish: Translation of dim for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dim for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dim

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


marked by shyness and lack of polish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Liar, Liar Quiz

  • alt-5761dbe2ba986
  • Someone who pretends to be sick in order to avoid work is a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!