1 of 2


shim·​mer ˈshi-mər How to pronounce shimmer (audio)
shimmered; shimmering ˈshi-mə-riŋ How to pronounce shimmer (audio)

intransitive verb

: to shine with a soft tremulous or fitful light : glimmer
: to reflect a wavering sometimes distorted visual image

transitive verb

: to cause to shimmer


2 of 2


: a light that shimmers : subdued sparkle or sheen : glimmer
: a wavering sometimes distorted visual image usually resulting from heat-induced changes in atmospheric refraction
ˈshi-mə-rē How to pronounce shimmer (audio)
Choose the Right Synonym for shimmer

flash, gleam, glint, sparkle, glitter, glisten, glimmer, shimmer mean to send forth light.

flash implies a sudden outburst of bright light.

lightning flashed

gleam suggests a steady light seen through an obscuring medium or against a dark background.

lights gleamed in the valley

glint implies a cold glancing light.

glinting steel

sparkle suggests innumerable moving points of bright light.

the sparkling waters

glitter connotes a brilliant sparkling or gleaming.

glittering diamonds

glisten applies to the soft sparkle from a wet or oily surface.

glistening wet sidewalk

glimmer suggests a faint or wavering gleam.

a distant glimmering light

shimmer means shining with a wavering light.

a shimmering satin dress

Examples of shimmer in a Sentence

Verb The road shimmered in the heat. a sequined dress shimmering under the studio lights
Recent Examples on the Web
Also acceptable are glitters that are trapped inside inks, paints, pastes, and glues and other solid objects, and glitters that are completely contained, like the shimmering flakes that float inside snowglobes. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 22 Nov. 2023 It's filled with 35 shimmering foils, vibrant pinks, and matte neutrals to create just about any look for any occasion. Anamaria Glavan, Allure, 19 Nov. 2023 This Ariel features a mix of locs and loose hair just like the Halle Bailey version and has a shimmering fin and scales all over her tail. Dorian Smith-Garcia, Parents, 8 Nov. 2023 This isn't the first time she's shimmered in the accessories. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 15 Nov. 2023 Available in 10 vibrant eyeshadow stick shades, these colors range from shimmering neutrals to bold matte hues, perfect for holiday parties or ringing in the New Year. Poppy Morgan, Rolling Stone, 15 Nov. 2023 Those were Matthew Perry’s last public words, in a cryptic Oct. 22 Instagram post accompanied by a photo of the Friends superstar reclining in his hot tub, the lights of the Pacific Palisades shimmering on the horizon. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Nov. 2023 White-sand beaches and shimmering blue water are just some of the most alluring traits. Lindsay Cohn, Travel + Leisure, 6 Nov. 2023 Not far away, the white lights of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge — the iconic starting point of the New York City Marathon — shimmered like a constellation in the dark sky. Andrew Keh Pete Kiehart, New York Times, 6 Nov. 2023
The only clue that Diane wasn’t truly human was an uncanny shimmer in the whites of her eyes. Stephen Witt, The New Yorker, 27 Nov. 2023 Sparkle Motion Performing just before Santa's arrival in N.Y.C., Cher brings the shimmer to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 07 of 80 Poster Child John Travolta spends Thanksgiving in London, attending a screening of the Disney+ original short film The Shepherd at the W London on Nov. 23. Alexandra Schonfeld, Peoplemag, 25 Nov. 2023 With a touch of illuminating shimmer, this Ciaté Blush adds that perfect hint of glow to your cheeks, giving you a healthy, flushed look with a touch of brilliance. Samantha Booth, Rolling Stone, 11 Nov. 2023 Tomei, more often than not, opts for neutral makeup hues: barely-there lip tints in subtle pinks and peaches, and warm brown eye shadow with the occasional touch of shimmer or black liner. Marci Robin, Allure, 7 Nov. 2023 This sweet set includes eyeshadow, blush, and two lip shimmers made from safe and organic materials. Maya Polton, Parents, 7 Nov. 2023 Swift, 33, and Kelce made all of New York City shimmer this weekend as they were spotted spending time together. Ilana Kaplan, Peoplemag, 16 Oct. 2023 Kiernan Shipka’s shimmer finds a home at the inner corners of the eyes, creating a bright, blushing bridal moment. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 6 Oct. 2023 His platinum blonde cotton candy wisp of hair shimmers in the harsh jailhouse lighting. Brian Bennett, Time, 25 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shimmer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English schimeren, from Old English scimerian; akin to Old English scīnan to shine — more at shine

First Known Use


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


1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shimmer was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near shimmer

Cite this Entry

“Shimmer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


shimmered; shimmering
: to shine with a wavering light : glimmer
shimmer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on shimmer

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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