verb di·min·ish \ də-ˈmi-nish \
|Updated on: 18 Jul 2018

Definition of diminish

1 : to make less or cause to appear less
  • diminish an army's strength
  • His role in the company was diminished.
2 : to lessen the authority, dignity, or reputation of : belittle
  • diminish a rival's accomplishments
3 architecture : to cause to taper (see 1taper 1)
  • a diminished column
1 : to become gradually less (as in size or importance) : dwindle
  • the side effects tend to diminish over time
2 architecture : taper


play \-ni-shə-bəl\ adjective


play \-mənt\ noun

Examples of diminish in a Sentence

  1. The strength of the army was greatly diminished by outbreaks of disease.

  2. The drug's side effects should diminish over time.

  3. Nothing could diminish the importance of his contributions.

Recent Examples of diminish from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of diminish

Middle English deminishen, alteration of diminuen, from Anglo-French diminuer, from Late Latin diminuere, alteration of Latin deminuere, from de- + minuere to lessen — more at minor

Synonym Discussion of diminish

decrease, lessen, diminish, reduce, abate, dwindle mean to grow or make less. decrease suggests a progressive decline in size, amount, numbers, or intensity.
    • slowly decreased the amount of pressure
lessen suggests a decline in amount rather than in number.
    • has been unable to lessen her debt
diminish emphasizes a perceptible loss and implies its subtraction from a total.
    • his visual acuity has diminished
reduce implies a bringing down or lowering.
    • you must reduce your caloric intake
abate implies a reducing of something excessive or oppressive in force or amount.
    • the storm abated
dwindle implies progressive lessening and is applied to things growing visibly smaller.
    • their provisions dwindled slowly

DIMINISH Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of diminish for English Language Learners

  • : to become or to cause (something) to become less in size, importance, etc.

  • : to lessen the authority or reputation of (someone or something) : to describe (something) as having little value or importance

DIMINISH Defined for Kids


verb di·min·ish \ də-ˈmi-nish \

Definition of diminish for Students

diminished; diminishing
1 : to make less or cause to seem less
  • … he didn't want to diminish any chance he might have of being found.
  • —Gary Paulsen, Hatchet
2 : belittle
3 : to become gradually less or smaller The number of wild birds is diminishing.


\-mənt\ noun

Seen and Heard

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to hasten

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