\ 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 : dim-witted too dim to understand the joke
4 : not perceiving clearly and distinctly dim eyes


dimmed; dimming

Definition of dim (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to become dim the lights dimmed their beauty had dimmed



Definition of dim (Entry 3 of 4)

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

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

As the country’s biggest mortgage lender, Commonwealth Bank’s prospects are looking increasingly dim. Washington Post, "Even for a Bank, 12,000 Job Cuts Seems Excessive," 18 Sep. 2019 Here, too, the crowd gathered early and waited as the sky grew dim; finally, with an echoing soundtrack, the show began. Brooke Jarvis, The New Yorker, "Who Speaks for Crazy Horse?," 16 Sep. 2019 My 2-year-old daughter was too scared to enter it, given its dim, moody lighting and sound effects. John Wenzel, The Know, "Urban Putt transforms Denver’s Old Spaghetti Factory into surreal mini-golf playground (with a bar)," 13 Sep. 2019 Astronomers believe that thousands of interstellar objects may be flying through our solar system at any given time, but the objects are generally small and dim, making them difficult to spot. Jay Bennett, Smithsonian, "Astronomers Spot a Comet That Likely Came From a Different Solar System," 12 Sep. 2019 The bulk of the structure contains a telescope with a 2.4-meter-diameter mirror and a variety of sensors calibrated for Earth observation, rather than the far dimmer objects found in deep space. Eric Adams, Popular Mechanics, "Everything We Know About America's Secret KH-11 Recon Satellites," 6 Sep. 2019 Lights, though neon, glow dim and relaxing. Purples, blues, pinks and greens dance across the walls. Kassi Jackson, courant.com, "Step inside La Sala Femme, a collaborative art installation in Hartford, and meet some of the black artists who brought it to life," 5 Sep. 2019 Behind them is a close-up pair of eyes from a portrait of the period cast in eerie blue by lighting designer Keith Parham when the lights interstitially dim. Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Witch': Theater Review," 30 Aug. 2019 The most common star in our galaxy is a red dwarf, smaller and dimmer than the Sun. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Super-Earth at a nearby star is a Mercury-like hunk of rock," 20 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But quitting YouTube hardly dimmed her business ambition. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "YouTube makeup star Michelle Phan finally posted a new video. Fans hope she's back for good," 16 Sep. 2019 Days removed from seeing it, even Phoenix’s performance — its sole selling point — dims. Los Angeles Times, "Best of the 2019 Toronto Film Festival: There was ‘Parasite’ and there was everything else," 13 Sep. 2019 The North's blistering rhetoric may dim the prospect for an early resumption of nuclear negotiations between the countries. Fox News, "North Korea calls Mike Pompeo 'poisonous plant of American diplomacy'," 23 Aug. 2019 Economy Is Key The state of the economy is key to Trump’s re-election prospects in 2020; a downturn would dim the outlook for a president whose approval ratings have stayed stubbornly low. Hailey Waller, Time, "President Trump Says U.S. Is 'Doing Very Well With China' Amid Continuing Trade Talks," 18 Aug. 2019 Homeowners, like owners of large urban structures, can reduce migratory bird collisions by dimming lights, drawing shades and closing blinds and curtains during migration periods. cleveland.com, "Cleveland Metroparks partner with Ohio Lights Out to promote bird-friendly buildings," 2 Sep. 2019 With the ability to connect with 10,000 smart home devices, the Echo Dot can be a hands-free way to play music, hear news, turn on the TV, dim the lights, adjust the thermostat and more. Julianne Ross, CNN Underscored, "These are the 20 most popular products Underscored readers are shopping in August," 28 Aug. 2019 Broadway marquees will dim their lights in his honor Wednesday night. Mark Kennedy, azcentral, "Harold Prince, Broadway legend who steered groundbreaking shows like 'Evita,' has died," 31 July 2019 Existing buildings were not required to dim their lights until 2015. Susannah Bryan, sun-sentinel.com, "Dim those bright lights or face $1,000 a day in fines on Hollywood beach," 26 July 2019

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 2


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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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Learn More about dim

Dictionary Entries near dim







dim bulb

Statistics for dim

Last Updated

21 Sep 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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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