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 Red dwarf stars are the smallest and most abundant stars in our galaxy. Fox News, "Gigantic 'superflare' spotted on nearby star," 14 July 2020 Nyx was likely once a dwarf galaxy that merged with the Milky Way. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "New stars found in the Milky Way were born outside of it," 12 July 2020 These dwarf forests are scattered in patches beneath a ridgeline southwest of our camp. Craig Welch, National Geographic, "The tree at the bottom of the world—and the wind-blasted trek to find it," 7 July 2020 The feminist icons get a reality check from Margaret Fuller Hardesty, a (fictional) dwarf in P.T. Barnum’s troupe who gives them an uncomfortable view of how society’s misfits feel about being patronized. Wendy Smith, Washington Post, "Norman Lock’s ‘American Follies’ mines America’s flawed past for dazzling fiction," 7 July 2020 Red dwarf systems make up about 70 percent of the Milky Way's stellar population. Fox News, "Scientists spot promising super-Earth planets just 11 light-years away," 27 June 2020 That forces the lad not only to believe all that folklore he was taught but put those lessons to use, with some remarkable help from a visiting fairy Holly (Lara McDonnell) and an oversized dwarf (Josh Gad, literally chewing up scenery). Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Artemis Fowl' really wants to be the next Harry Potter," 12 June 2020 The signals come from a dwarf galaxy that's some 3 billion light-years away from Earth. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "More 'fast radio bursts' have been detected from a distant galaxy. This one has a repeating pattern.," 10 June 2020 Set in the fictional world of Middle Earth, where elves, dwarves and orcs are as common as humans, a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is thrust into an adventure that will change his life. Meghan Herbst, Wired, "Hey Kids! Read These Books on Your Very. Long. Summer," 20 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The rise of drug-resistant microbes is a public health crisis that has the potential to dwarf covid-19 in deaths and economic costs, the companies said in a statement. Washington Post, "Drug giants launch $1 billion fund to develop new antibiotics," 9 July 2020 On Twitter, Trump’s 82.4 million followers dwarf Biden’s 6.4 million. Amanda Seitz, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump, Biden fight for primacy on social media platforms," 5 July 2020 Audio content is the most underserved of media markets in India and the number of people who will wind up consuming this content will dwarf the numbers today. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Indians stopped commuting to offices during the pandemic, but podcasts didn’t suffer," 26 June 2020 Officials said that the May fundraising was an important demonstration of their effort to stay well ahead of Democratic challenger Joe Biden and dwarf his cash on hand. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Boom: $27.2M May haul for GOP, with Trump campaign raising more than $810M," 20 June 2020 Derek Perry, an invertebrate fisheries biologist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, said that other fisheries dwarf the impact of the biomedical industry. Doug Fraser, USA TODAY, "Horseshoe crabs may be the answer to a safe coronavirus vaccine next year. Here's why.," 16 June 2020 But commissions of that size aren’t something all muralists can take on — the months of work and logistics involved in creating a large-scale mural can dwarf planning a wedding. Samantha Nobles-block, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area artist followed her political convictions to a life in art," 1 June 2020 That number is dwarfed by the $42.463 million UW expects to receive in 2020-21 from Big Ten media rights. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A study released last fall hints at how big a hit the state economy would take if UW can’t play football," 22 May 2020 That would dwarf the S$230 million provided in response to the SARS outbreak in 2003, Citi analysts Wei Zheng Kit and Kai Wei Ang said in a Feb. 11 research note. Michelle Jamrisko, Bloomberg.com, "Singapore Plans Strong Budget Stimulus to Counter Virus Threat," 5 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 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

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dwarf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dwarf. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for dwarf


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


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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