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 Where many gardeners go in southwest Washington, the 40-year-old family-run nursery has an exceptional selection of water plants and fish for home ponds as well as a wide selection of Japanese maples, perennials, dwarf conifers, bamboo and grasses. oregonlive, 8 July 2021 Scientists suggest the dwarf elephants reached this size in a short amount of time due to scarcity of resources, per Gizmodo. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 July 2021 Proxima Centauri, a small star known as an M dwarf, harbors at least two exoplanets, one of which is Earth-size and close enough to the star to be habitable if it weren’t bathed in radiation. New York Times, 28 May 2021 In fact, the Gaia mission itself has revealed that our galaxy’s halo is full of debris from some massive dwarf galaxies—such as the Gaia-Enceladus-Sausage. Jamie Carter, Forbes, 18 May 2021 If the dwarf sucks up a little too much hydrogen from its neighbor, the result can be a nova visible across the cosmos. Eric Mack, Forbes, 18 May 2021 For a smaller holly that deer do not eat, select the dwarf yaupon holly. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 30 Apr. 2021 My favorite, though, is 'Buddy,' a purple dwarf that reaches only 6 to 8 inches. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 24 May 2021 Oh, by the way, dwarf Burford holly bears large, bright red berries all winter each winter. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, 14 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb First, in the early part of the year, construction of a neighboring ultra-luxury high rise that would dwarf Champlain Towers prompted a series of complaints from residents about noise, debris and shaking. Scott Glover, CNN, 3 July 2021 Shelter offers, backed by enforcement, could embroil L.A. in another confrontation that would dwarf the disturbances over the city’s recent police action to remove a sprawling tent city from Echo Park Lake, several advocates said. Gale Holland Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2021 The Super League has received backing already from banking giant JPMorgan and reportedly already has held talks with media companies on rights deals that would dwarf current contracts. BostonGlobe.com, 19 Apr. 2021 On Earth, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’s Institute of High Energy Physics is planning a $5 billion particle accelerator that would dwarf the world’s top facility, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Dennis Normile, Science | AAAS, 1 Apr. 2021 Today, Flushing’s Chinatown and the Chinatown in Sunset Park in Brooklyn have come to dwarf Manhattan’s. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 2 Dec. 2020 Chinese shoppers often dwarf the totals of U.S. customers. Chris Morris, Fortune, 21 June 2021 Fortunately, their talents dwarf their eccentricities, and neither has walked on the wrong side of the law. Isaac Cheifetz, Star Tribune, 5 June 2021 The long-term risks from asset bubbles and fiscal dominance dwarf the short-term risk of putting the brakes on a booming economy in 2022. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, 11 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Baby bok choy can be either a dwarf variety or a small, immature plant. BostonGlobe.com, 1 June 2021 Domesticated, dwarf varieties of olive trees can grow up to six-feet tall and need exposure to direct sunlight to survive indoors. Tamara Gane, Southern Living, 7 May 2021 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, 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, 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, 5 Dec. 2020 The pears are mature semi-dwarf trees, a Bosc and a Bartlett. oregonlive, 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, 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, 17 Aug. 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

15 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dwarf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dwarf. Accessed 23 Jul. 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


transitive verb

Medical Definition of dwarf (Entry 2 of 2)

: to restrict the growth of : stunt

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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