\ ˈdim How to pronounce dim (audio) \
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

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Other Words from dim


dimly adverb
dimmable \ ˈdi-​mə-​bəl How to pronounce dimmable (audio) \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Eventually, the cataract will begin to obscure your eyesight, making images blurry, clouded or dim. Amir Khan, sun-sentinel.com, "Surgery to treat cataract can wait if vision hasn’t been affected yet," 6 June 2019 White dwarfs, being small and dim, are not the easiest of things to observe. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Two white dwarfs collide, may end up as neutron star," 29 May 2019 Barnard’s star is also a very small and dim type of star known as a red dwarf. Loren Grush, The Verge, "A cold ‘super-Earth’ may live around a nearby star," 14 Nov. 2018 When the cast starts with him and Haddish, then adds Cedric the Entertainer as the obnoxious honcho of Tray’s halfway house and Allen Maldonado as Tray’s enthusiastic and dim cousin Bobby, the show is going to be funny. Michael Ordona, latimes.com, "Tracy Morgan 'went through hell' and came back with an unusual comedy in 'The Last O.G.'," 30 May 2018 It's generally accepted that across vertebrae species, cones are responsible for color vision and rods for detecting brightness in dim conditions. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Some Fish Can See in Color at 5,000 Feet Below Sea Level," 10 May 2019 Many trainers take a dim view of babying and otherwise anthropomorphizing our pets. Peter Haldeman, New York Times, "The Secret Price of Pets," 4 July 2018 The lighting is dim, the couches are comfy, and the drink menu is extensive. Audrey Gorden, RedEye Chicago, "Popping the cork on the best 'secret,' speakeasy-style bars in Chicago," 18 July 2017 At Triangle specifically, the lighting was kept dim, and the doors were kept locked during business hours to keep the women at their machines — or, according to some, due to the owners' paranoia that the workers were stealing. Marlena Scott, Teen Vogue, "Many Women Who Died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 Were Young Immigrants," 25 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Barbara, my dance friend Gloria’s mom who treated me like a daughter during long rehearsals, did my eyebrows for the first time, and had a sparkle in her eyes that taught me what light can never be dimmed. Harmonyholiday, Longreads, "Mama Looks for Melanin," 6 June 2019 Suddenly, the lights dimmed and a chanteur in sky-high heels took to the stage. Vogue, "John Waters Was in His Campy Element at Ballroom Marfa's Spring Celebration," 21 May 2019 In addition, the walls can detect and respond intelligently to the activity of electrical appliances — for example, dimming the lights when a TV is switched on — and sense the presence of people in a room. David Freeman /, NBC News, "New smart wall lets you control your home with swipes, taps," 25 Apr. 2018 The strong words from the FDA and ACOG have not dimmed the appeal, or the big business, of these treatments. Elizabeth Siegel, Allure, "Vaginal Rejuvenation Is on the Rise, But the Results Often Don't Live Up to the Hype," 27 Mar. 2019 By the late 1980s, Reynolds’s star had dimmed considerably. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "6 performances that explain Burt Reynolds," 6 Sep. 2018 This stands to reason: Playwriting tends to be a young man’s game, and his creative flame had dimmed after three decades of exhaustingly hard use. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "Neil Simon (1927-2018): The King of Stage Comedy," 26 Aug. 2018 There will be not as many flashing lights and dimmed sound and the actors will be ready for the fact that there may be audience participating a little more than the evening show that night. Kathy Cichon, chicagotribune.com, "Youth theater presents 'Best of Broadway' show at Steel Beam," 14 June 2018 But in recent days, scandal has threatened to dim one of the Democratic Party’s brightest Southern stars. Richard Fausset, New York Times, "‘I Know That God Will Forgive Me,’ the Nashville Mayor Says. But Will the Voters?," 6 Feb. 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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near dim







dim bulb

Statistics for dim

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dim

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

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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 How to pronounce dim (audio) \
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


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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).


to take the place or position of

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