di·​min·​ish də-ˈmi-nish How to pronounce diminish (audio)
diminished; diminishing; diminishes

transitive verb

: to make less or cause to appear less
diminish an army's strength
His role in the company was diminished.
: to lessen the authority, dignity, or reputation of : belittle
diminish a rival's accomplishments
architecture : to cause to taper (see taper entry 1 sense 1)
a diminished column

intransitive verb

: to become gradually less (as in size or importance) : dwindle
the side effects tend to diminish over time
architecture : taper
diminishable adjective
diminishment noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

The strength of the army was greatly diminished by outbreaks of disease. The drug's side effects should diminish over time. Nothing could diminish the importance of his contributions.
Recent Examples on the Web Wright and Bassett are the sequel’s standouts, their characters refusing to let their pain diminish their dignity as both of them proudly carry the torch for T’Challa. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Nov. 2022 These effects aren't felt equally, however, and currency changes can amplify or diminish them. Tim Leffel, CNN, 1 Nov. 2022 Families who have three children are likely to see costs diminish with each additional child, while families who have only one child are likely to pay a little more. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2022 Yet the many disappointments in Barker’s career were not incidental to his significance, and emphasizing them does not diminish him. Ian Beacock, The New Republic, 25 Aug. 2022 Like the teachers union that backs her, Rivas sees charters as part of an organized effort to weaken and diminish the value of traditional public education and push education into the private and for-profit domain. Howard Blumestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 30 Oct. 2022 All of which come together to not only diminish fine lines and spur collagen production, but simultaneously de-puff and condition. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 27 Oct. 2022 The wind will diminish later Friday and be much lighter by nightfall. Dave Epstein, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Oct. 2022 Rain chances will diminish to about 30% to 50% after noon and should be done by 4 p.m. High temperatures will be around 80 degrees, with overnight lows around 60 degrees. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 18 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of diminish was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near diminish

Cite this Entry

“Diminish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diminish. Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



di·​min·​ish də-ˈmin-ish How to pronounce diminish (audio)
: to make less or cause to appear less
: to lessen the authority, dignity, or reputation of : belittle
: to become gradually less (as in size or importance) : dwindle
diminishment noun

More from Merriam-Webster on diminish

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