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

Definition of dwarf

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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


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 dwarf (audio) \ adjective
dwarfishly adverb
dwarfishness noun
dwarflike \ ˈdwȯrf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce dwarf (audio) \ adjective
dwarfness \ ˈdwȯrf-​nəs How to pronounce dwarf (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 Here, the dwarf reticulated iris — there are around 21,000 of these bulbs — pop up in deep blues in early spring, flowering along with fragrant hyacinths and lightly perfumed witch hazels. Cameron Walker, New York Times, "Greet Spring With a Visit to a Public Garden," 20 Mar. 2021 However, that is far more likely to have gotten dwarf yaupon hollies. Neil Sperry, ExpressNews.com, "It’s hard to control Texas leaf cutting ants, which strip plants in pieces," 22 Jan. 2021 In particular, the animals might possess strange-looking eyes, optimized to detect the infrared radiation emitted by Proxima Centauri, a dwarf star with half the surface temperature of the sun. Avi Loeb, Scientific American, "Why Do We Assume Extraterrestrials Might Want to Visit Us?," 21 Jan. 2021 Given that dwarf stars like Proxima Centauri are much more abundant than the sun, most habitable planets might be covered with dark red grass, which would be as soothing to the infrared eyes of most exo-vacationers as green grass is to us. Avi Loeb, Scientific American, "Why Do We Assume Extraterrestrials Might Want to Visit Us?," 21 Jan. 2021 Given the strange orbits of some of these celestial bodies and dwarf planets beyond Neptune, astronomers think there is a massive, unseen planet that pushed them into a cluster and governs their movements. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Hubble observes strange, distant exoplanet similar to 'Planet Nine' that may exist in our solar system," 11 Dec. 2020 Do consider, too, replacing it with one of the dwarf sage selections. Neil Sperry, ExpressNews.com, "Neil Sperry: Too-tall Texas sage is easy to prune back," 25 Dec. 2020 The misshapen dwarf imagines that the callous little princess loves him. Washington Post, "A reading list just right for Christmas 2020: A little Dickens, a little Wilde, a little Donald Duck," 23 Dec. 2020 In August, Kruijssen’s group published a merger lineage of the Milky Way and the dwarf galaxies that formed it. Charlie Wood, Quanta Magazine, "The New History of the Milky Way," 15 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Medicare costs for dialysis dwarf the costs of making donation less expensive for generous living donors. Greg Segal, STAT, "Reforming and improving organ transplant systems will save lives, taxpayer dollars," 3 Apr. 2021 The leisure and hospitality sector grew by about 17% during the same period, but continued to dwarf other sectors in terms of actual numbers. Katherine Sayre, WSJ, "Las Vegas, After Its Latest Bust, Aims for Another Boom," 18 Mar. 2021 But well before that, if the recent past is any guide, the rainy-day reserve might dwarf Norway’s actual economy, giving the krone a quite unique status. Samanth Subramanian, Quartz, "Why the Norwegian krone could be the world’s first global currency," 4 Mar. 2021 Sicily had been the largest seaborne invasion of anywhere ever, and Normandy 11 months later would dwarf it. Bartle Bull, WSJ, "‘Unsinkable’ Review: Set Ablaze, Still Fighting," 16 Dec. 2020 But the report finds that those homes face losses each year which dwarf the costs of their NFIP premiums. Drew Kann. Graphics By Renée Rigdon, CNN, "Flood risk is growing for US homeowners due to climate change. Current insurance rates greatly underestimate the threat, a new report finds," 22 Feb. 2021 Many of their proposals dwarf what Romney is offering. Samuel Gregg, National Review, "The Conservative Fight over the Size of Government," 24 Feb. 2021 On many days, a quarter of a million Americans become newly infected with the coronavirus, and four thousand die—numbers that dwarf the deadliest moments of last spring. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, "Biden’s Pandemic Plan Might Just Work," 27 Jan. 2021 The number, projected recently by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, would dwarf annual job losses in the Great Recession, in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks and during several oil-and-gas busts in the past century. Dallas News, "Good riddance, 2020: Worst year ever for jobs in Texas," 27 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Johnny Appleseed Authentic Algeo variety thrives in Hardiness Zones 4-7 and is available through the Johnny Appleseed website in two different sizes: one that grows up to 16 feet tall and a dwarf version that tops out around 10 feet tall. Mackenzie Nichols, Better Homes & Gardens, "Yes, Johnny Appleseed Trees Exist, and Now You Can Grow One of Your Own," 24 Feb. 2021 There are standard varieties which can grow up to 10 feet tall or dwarf varieties that reach no taller than 2-3 feet tall. Janet Carson, Arkansas Online, "French Mystery Plants Revealed," 14 Feb. 2021 Lavender and rosemary share space with dwarf Mexican bush sage, blue fescue, ‘Sunset’ manzanita, and shasta daisies. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Two WaterSmart winners: Budget-smart beauty and colorful cottage," 5 Dec. 2020 The pears are mature semi-dwarf trees, a Bosc and a Bartlett. oregonlive, "Ask an expert: Options are few for pear tree with trellis rust," 7 Nov. 2020 But most of these early explorers were in it primarily for the quest for knowledge, not for the next weeping, variegated, dwarf form of some obscure garden plant. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "Have you ever wondered why you can find so many plant species? Thank these early explorers," 18 Sep. 2020 Plants from the resulting seed are often more vigorous with desirable traits such as disease resistance, more productivity or dwarf/compact growth. Jodi Bay, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Garden Mastery: How to save seeds to re-create next season’s vegetables," 17 Aug. 2020 There were three bedrooms—easily convertible to four—and amenities such as a dishwasher and a soaker hose for the back garden (herbs, rose of Sharon, a dwarf crab-apple tree). Tyler Foggatt, The New Yorker, "Bill de Blasio Slept Here," 10 Aug. 2020 Nearby: To buy dwarf car paraphernalia such as T-shirts, books, DVDs and magnets, visit the Dwarf Car Gift Shop a block away at Flat Tire Springs. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Dwarf cars: Street-legal replicas of classic rides are made in AZ. Here's where to see them," 27 Mar. 2020

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


14th 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 in the 14th century

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Statistics for dwarf

Last Updated

29 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dwarf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dwarf. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for dwarf



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


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

Medical Definition of dwarf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

Medical Definition of dwarf (Entry 2 of 2)

: to restrict the growth of : stunt

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Comments on dwarf

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