dwarf

1 of 3

noun

plural dwarfs ˈdwȯrfs How to pronounce dwarf (audio) also dwarves ˈdwȯrvz How to pronounce dwarf (audio)
often attributive
1
sometimes offensive : a person of unusually small stature (see stature sense 1)
especially : a person whose height does not exceed 4' 10" and is typically less than 4' 5"
2
: an animal or plant much below normal size
3
folklore : a small legendary manlike being who is usually misshapen and ugly and skilled as a craftsman
4
astronomy : a celestial object of comparatively small mass or size: such as
a
: a star of ordinary or low luminosity
The outer layers of a swollen elderly red giant star were pouring onto the photosphere of a vigorous … yellow dwarf, something like the Sun.Carl Sagan
compare giant sense 4, supergiant
b
: a galaxy containing a relatively low number of stars
Harlow Shapley discovered the first examples of dwarf satellite galaxies in 1938, one in the constellation Sculptor and one in Fornax.Astronomy
5
: an insignificant person
a literary dwarf
dwarfish adjective
dwarfishly adverb
dwarfishness noun
dwarflike adjective
dwarfness noun

dwarf

2 of 3

verb

dwarfed; dwarfing; dwarfs

transitive verb

1
: to cause to appear smaller or to seem inferior
dwarfed by his older brother
has dwarfed the achievements of her predecessors
2
: to restrict the growth of : stunt
children dwarfed by malnutrition

intransitive verb

: to become smaller

dwarf

3 of 3

adjective

of a plant
: low-growing in habit
a dwarf peach tree
dwarfer forms of citrus

Examples of dwarf in a Sentence

Noun Shetland ponies are the dwarfs of the horse world. Snow White and the seven dwarfs. Verb shrubs dwarfed by the lack of water
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Emperor tamarins are dwarf monkeys with whiskers that resemble a white moustache. Robert Higgs, cleveland, 1 Feb. 2023 The dwarf variety grows to be about 5 to 7 feet, ideal for a small garden or accent in a room with limited space. Bryce Jones, Better Homes & Gardens, 24 Jan. 2023 Other dwarf boas have been identified elsewhere in South America and the West Indies, but none had ever been found in the region where Bentley spotted this one. Kate Golembiewski, CNN, 16 Jan. 2023 Luggage lined up in Dallas terminals like dwarf soldiers in a nightmare reveille. Dan Zak, Washington Post, 28 Dec. 2022 And stashed inside a bin below the gallon jars: an African dwarf crocodile. Dallas News, 3 Nov. 2022 Some of those moons, like Europa, Callisto and Ganymede around Jupiter, Enceladus around Saturn and Triton around Uranus and even dwarf planets like Pluto are covered in ice layers that might be hundreds of miles thick. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 28 Oct. 2022 Plant dwarf varieties in containers and bring them inside over the winter to enjoy them year-round. Katarina Avendano, Good Housekeeping, 8 July 2022 There are a few genetic-dwarf varieties which stay smaller than varieties dwarfed by grafting, such as certain peaches and apples, but root spread limited by a container may restrain their growth even more. Miri Talabac, Baltimore Sun, 12 May 2022
Verb
Most of that sum — which dwarfed what venture capitalists had invested in other A.I. start-ups — came from Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, and his colleagues. Cade Metz, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2024 Winning ceased, bowl appearances dried up and Fisher was fired even though the school must pay him that staggering $77.5 million buyout, dwarfing the previous record buyout of $21.7 million paid in 2020 to former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2023 The amount dwarfs, as the Journal notes, the size of today’s global semiconductor industry. Steve Mollman, Fortune, 10 Feb. 2024 The arena, which opened in Mexico City in 1946, seats 42,000 and dwarfs the stadium next door, home to the professional soccer team Cruz Azul. James Wagner, New York Times, 9 Feb. 2024 The changes revealing themselves across the landscape — an antitrust lawsuit here, a change in the transfer rules — dwarf all previous developments. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, 3 Feb. 2024 The 20-deck vessel dwarfs its competitors and has room for 5,610 guests and another 2,350 crew members. Justin Klawans, theweek, 7 Jan. 2024 The turnout then, however, was dwarfed by the numbers over this weekend. Kate Brady, Washington Post, 22 Jan. 2024 However, the amount of PET was dwarfed by the amount of polyamides, a form of nylon used in the reverse osmosis filters that water is run through before bottling. Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times, 8 Jan. 2024
Adjective
The team estimates that Nube is a dwarf galaxy only one-tenth as bright as others of its type, yet 10 times larger than other galaxies with a comparable number of stars. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, 26 Jan. 2024 Beginning around six billion years ago, a dwarf galaxy named Sagittarius sideswiped the Milky Way and swung around it. Ann Finkbeiner, Scientific American, 16 Jan. 2024 Based on data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission, this study has found that many dwarf galaxies that were orbiting the Milky Way only a few billion years ago have ended up destroyed after being pulled in by our much more massive galaxy. Elizabeth Rayne, Ars Technica, 7 Dec. 2023 The Egyptian pantheon of gods included several dwarf deities. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 22 Dec. 2023 Palestinian casualty numbers, of course, dwarf Israeli ones—another indication of just how disproportionate IDF tactics are. Sarah E. Parkinson, Foreign Affairs, 14 Nov. 2023 These include domestic cats, or Felis catus, along with polar bears, bats, mountain zebra, wombats, dwarf spinner dolphins, leopards and Tasmanian devils. Emma Ogao, ABC News, 4 Oct. 2023 This invisible stuff, already then called dark matter, was surmised to form immense halos surrounding galaxies, outweighing the visible material by a factor of 10 for large galaxies and as much as 100-fold for dwarf galaxies. Adam Mann, Scientific American, 11 Oct. 2023 The dwarf spinner dolphin, which had glowing teeth, was the only species that didn’t exhibit fluorescence on the outside of its body. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dwarf.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun, Verb, and Adjective

Middle English dwerg, dwerf, from Old English dweorg, dweorh; akin to Old High German twerg dwarf

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1623, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Adjective

1548, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dwarf was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near dwarf

Cite this Entry

“Dwarf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dwarf. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

dwarf

1 of 2 noun
plural dwarfs ˈdwȯ(ə)rfs How to pronounce dwarf (audio) also dwarves ˈdwȯ(ə)rvz How to pronounce dwarf (audio)
1
: a person, animal, or plant much below normal size or height
2
: a small legendary being usually pictured as a deformed and ugly person
3
: a star (as the sun) that in comparison to other stars gives off an ordinary or small amount of energy and has small mass and size
dwarf adjective
dwarfish adjective
dwarfness noun

dwarf

2 of 2 verb
1
: to restrict the growth or development of : stunt
2
: to cause to appear smaller

Medical Definition

dwarf

1 of 2 noun
plural dwarfs ˈdwȯ(ə)rfs How to pronounce dwarf (audio) also dwarves ˈdwȯ(ə)rvz How to pronounce dwarf (audio)
often attributive
1
sometimes offensive : a person of unusually small stature
especially : a person whose height does not exceed 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 meters) and is typically less than 4 feet 5 inches (1.35 meters)
2
: an animal much below normal size

dwarf

2 of 2 transitive verb
: to restrict the growth of : stunt

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