noun, often attributive
\ ˈdwȯrf How to pronounce dwarf (audio) \
plural dwarfs\ ˈdwȯrfs How to pronounce dwarfs (audio) \ also dwarves\ ˈdwȯrvz How to pronounce dwarves (audio) \

Definition of dwarf

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : 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 star (such as the sun) of ordinary or low luminosity and relatively small mass and size
5 : an insignificant person a literary dwarf


dwarfed; dwarfing; dwarfs

Definition of dwarf (Entry 2 of 3)

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



Definition of dwarf (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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Other Words from dwarf


dwarfish \ ˈdwȯr-​fish How to pronounce dwarfish (audio) \ adjective
dwarfishly adverb
dwarfishness noun
dwarflike \ ˈdwȯrf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce dwarflike (audio) \ adjective
dwarfness \ ˈdwȯrf-​nəs How to pronounce dwarfness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for dwarf

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Bloomberg’s wealth and spending alike dwarf the checkbook of the other billionaire still in the mix, Tom Steyer, who did not qualify for Wednesday’s debate. Philip Elliott, Time, "Michael Bloomberg Makes It to the Debate Stage. He May Regret It," 19 Feb. 2020 Although Trump’s tariffs on $360 billion in Chinese products have sparked Chinese counter-tariffs, U.S. imports from China dwarf exports to the country. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Economy grew solid 2.1% in fourth quarter on consumer spending, trade, housing," 30 Jan. 2020 The ride currently ends with a scene showing the villainous witch attempting to push a boulder onto the seven dwarves before tumbling to her death. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Disney reveals major changes coming to classic Snow White ride," 28 Nov. 2019 Pay attention to the silly new names for the dwarfs. Tracy Trobridge, baltimoresun.com, "Glenwood/Glenelg/Dayton: Glenelg students excited to present new twists on ‘Snow White’," 15 Nov. 2019 These events occur disproportionately often in dwarf irregular galaxies, which are thought to be similar to some of the earliest galaxies that populated the universe. Quanta Magazine, "A Cosmic Burst Repeats, Deepening a Mystery," 18 Apr. 2017 Carissa hollies are the best-selling dwarf hollies in Texas today. Neil Sperry, ExpressNews.com, "Neil Sperry: Patio roses could be infected with rose rosette virus," 23 Jan. 2020 In South Carolina, Steyer's spending dwarf that of his competitors. Lacrai Mitchell, CBS News, "Why Tom Steyer suddenly looks competitive in South Carolina," 10 Jan. 2020 Even so, the 60 records that remain dwarf the number of records still on the books for each 10-year period going back more than a half-century. Rich Exner, cleveland, "Hot decade of 2010s sets or ties 66 Cleveland daily high temperature records," 29 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb His on-court impact – he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year – was only dwarfed by his influence in the game and beyond. Gus Martin, USA TODAY, "Kobe Bryant tragedy is latest in sports world's long, tragic history with aviation crashes," 28 Jan. 2020 But while Biden's team is dwarfed by the staff Sanders has amassed, the former vice president has nabbed the support of key progressive leaders in the state. Alexander Tin, CBS News, "With a flurry of endorsements, Bernie Sanders shores up Nevada support," 16 Jan. 2020 But the Bay Area’s 2019 figures are echoing what has been a nationwide decline in bloodshed over the past decade, with numbers that are dwarfed by those in the late aughts and early 1990s. Megan Cassidy, SFChronicle.com, "New normal? After plunging homicide numbers, Bay Area levels remain low in 2019," 3 Jan. 2020 In 2017, the US produced about 133,000 metric tons, a number that is dwarfed by the more than 2 million metric tons grown across the border. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "The avocado trade has become one of the more dangerous fields in food," 7 Dec. 2019 The corporations to date have paid nearly $500 million in fines to the Justice Department for failing to report and prevent suspicious drug orders, a number that is dwarfed by the revenue of the companies. Author: Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz, Steven Rich, Anchorage Daily News, "Newly released federal data unmasks epidemic that led to 76 billion opioid pills," 17 July 2019 The amount of data comprising the new observations, in other words, has already dwarfed what came out of the entire original mission. Jon Gertner, Scientific American, "How a New Wave of Orbiting Sentinels Is Changing Climate Science," 6 Jan. 2020 In Michigan, while earnings jump between each level of degree, the increase is dwarfed by the increase in debt owed, a Free Press analysis of the data shows. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "How much can I make? Students can look up college major, salary potential after graduation," 27 Nov. 2019 This figure was dwarfed by investment in fossil fuels, Boston Common said. Adrian Croft, Fortune, "Banks Set to Cash in on the Saudi Aramco IPO Want You to Know They’re Still Serious About Climate Change," 14 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Zones: 7 to 9 Little Ollie Montra Dwarf Olive (Olea europaea 'Montra') This dwarf evergreen has deep green leaves with silvery undersides and can be potted or sheared into a hedge. Arricca Sansone, Country Living, "20 Best Boxwood Shrubs to Plant in Your Garden," 14 Feb. 2019 For a pink dwarf crape myrtle, the experts identified Pokomoto as a selection to consider. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, "There’s a lot to love about crape myrtles," 6 July 2018 Dwarf irises Why grow them: My bright-purple reticulatas reliably bloom in the first weeks of March, sticking their speckled tongues out at raging wind. Susan Clotfelter, The Denver Post, "Ten plants that even a black-thumb gardener can’t kill," 31 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dwarf.' 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 dwarf


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1626, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2


1597, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dwarf

Noun, Verb, and Adjective

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

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Time Traveler for dwarf

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dwarf

Last Updated

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dwarf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dwarf. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for dwarf



Financial Definition of dwarf

What It Is

In the mortgage business, a dwarf is a group of mortgage-backed securities that mature in fewer than 15 years. The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA or Fannie Mae) issues dwarves.

How It Works

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are securities that represent an interest in a pool of mortgage loans. Let's assume you want to buy a house, so you get a mortgage from XYZ Bank. XYZ Bank transfers money into your account, and you agree to repay the money according to a set schedule. XYZ Bank (which could also be a thrift, credit union, or other originator) may then choose to hold the mortgage in its portfolio (i.e., simply collect the interest and principal payments over the next several years) or sell it.

If XYZ Bank sells the mortgage, it gets cash to make other loans. So let's assume that XYZ Bank sells your mortgage to Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae groups your mortgage with similar mortgages it has already purchased (referred to as "pooling" the mortgages). The mortgages in the pool have common characteristics (i.e., similar interest rates, maturities). Pools that mature in fewer than 15 years make up dwarves.

Fannie Mae then sells securities that represent an interest in the dwarves, of which your mortgage is a small part (called securitizing the pool). It sells these MBS to investors in the open market. With the funds from the sale of the MBS, Fannie Mae can purchase more mortgages and create more MBS.

Why It Matters

For investors, an MBS is much like a bond, and dwarves are relatively short-term bonds in this sense However, it is important to note that payments that are part interest and part principal could be unfavorable to some dwarf investors, because with each decrease in outstanding principal there is a corresponding decrease in the amount of interest that accrues. The return of principal could also vary depending on how quickly the underlying mortgages are repaid.

Fannie Mae guarantees the timely payment of interest and principal on the MBS they issue -- that is, if the borrowers do not make their mortgage payments on time, Fannie Mae will still make timely interest and principal payments to their MBS investors. It is important to note that the U.S. government does not guarantee Fannie Mae. That is, if it cannot fulfill their obligations to its MBS investors, the government has no responsibility to rescue it.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce dwarf (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dwarf

 (Entry 1 of 3)

in stories : a creature that looks like a small man and that often lives underground and has magical powers
sometimes offensive : a person who is much smaller than most people because of a medical condition



English Language Learners Definition of dwarf (Entry 2 of 3)

: to make (something) look very small or unimportant when compared with something else



English Language Learners Definition of dwarf (Entry 3 of 3)

of a plant or animal : smaller than normal size


\ ˈdwȯrf How to pronounce dwarf (audio) \
plural dwarfs\ ˈdwȯrfs \ also dwarves\ ˈdwȯrvz \

Kids Definition of dwarf

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a person, animal, or plant much smaller than normal size
2 : a creature in legends that is usually pictured as a small person who is skilled at some craft


dwarfed; dwarfing

Kids Definition of dwarf (Entry 2 of 3)

: to cause to appear smaller Our car was dwarfed by the giant redwood trees.



Kids Definition of dwarf (Entry 3 of 3)

: of less than the usual size dwarf pine trees

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noun, often attributive
\ ˈdwȯ(ə)rf How to pronounce dwarf (audio) \
plural dwarfs\ ˈdwȯ(ə)rfs How to pronounce dwarfs (audio) \ also dwarves\ ˈdwȯ(ə)rvz How to pronounce dwarves (audio) \

Medical Definition of dwarf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : 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

Medical Definition of dwarf (Entry 2 of 2)

: to restrict the growth of : stunt

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More from Merriam-Webster on dwarf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dwarf

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dwarf

Spanish Central: Translation of dwarf

Nglish: Translation of dwarf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dwarf for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dwarf

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