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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Whereas the Milky Way now houses between 200 billion and 400 billion stars, dwarf galaxies contain between 100 million and several billion. Amy Woodyatt, CNN, 17 Mar. 2021 Although known for their small size, klipspringers — a type of dwarf antelope — are typically born weighing around 35.2 ounces, according to the San Diego Zoo. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, 26 Apr. 2021 After Robles did the same — altogether, the bullpen retired 11 consecutive hitters between innings five and nine — Baldelli left the ninth inning to Colome, whose 138 career saves dwarf Rogers' 41. Phil Miller, Star Tribune, 2 Apr. 2021 Among the 10 finalists vying to be named the next Cadbury bunny are two Texans: a Nigerian dwarf goat named Dog and an alpaca named Waylon; and two Floridians: an Australian White tree frog named Betty, and a Persian cat named Pepa. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, 16 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The new airplanes made possible by these engines actually dwarf the present giants of the airways. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 3 June 2021 But the Indy 500 will dwarf those totals this weekend. Chron, 27 May 2021 Israel’s military capabilities dwarf those of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whose weapons lack the precision and strength of Israeli warplanes and bombs. Washington Post, 13 May 2021 Yet those numbers still dwarf vaccination rates in most of the developing world, where infections are spiking in the countries least able to protect themselves and most disadvantaged by the West’s self-interest. Christian Paz, The Atlantic, 13 May 2021 But passage of the bill, known as H.R. 1, would end a legislative fight and start a legal war that could dwarf the court challenges aimed at the Affordable Care Act over the past decade. New York Times, 5 May 2021 The end result: an increase that could dwarf any savings from the much ballyhooed freeze of the rate schedule. BostonGlobe.com, 15 Apr. 2021 Mirroring the industry at large, the substance of the Motion Picture Association’s annual report has evolved in recent years as the revenues generated by digital, direct-to-consumer distribution now dwarf global box-office revenues. R.t. Watson, WSJ, 18 Mar. 2021 But Starship will dwarf Orion in size, making the architecture similar to sailing a yacht across the Atlantic Ocean and then switching to a cruise ship for the short ride into port. New York Times, 16 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dwarf

Time Traveler for dwarf

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dwarf

Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dwarf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dwarf. Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!