shim·mer | \ ˈshi-mər \
shimmered; shimmering\ˈshi-mə-riŋ, ˈshim-riŋ \

Definition of shimmer 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to shine with a soft tremulous or fitful light : glimmer

2 : to reflect a wavering sometimes distorted visual image

transitive verb

: to cause to shimmer



Definition of shimmer (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a light that shimmers : subdued sparkle or sheen : glimmer

2 : a wavering sometimes distorted visual image usually resulting from heat-induced changes in atmospheric refraction

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Other words from shimmer


shimmery \ˈshi-mə-rē, ˈshim-rē \ adjective

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


The road shimmered in the heat. a sequined dress shimmering under the studio lights

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Clockwise from left: Ann Taylor hoop earrings, $59.50; Topshop dress, $75; Privé Revaux sunglasses, $29.95; Loeffler Randall shimmer mules, $395 and Ted Baker London crossbody bag, $99.83 (orig. Kami Phillips,, "3 Cute Memorial Day Outfits You Can Pick Up at the Mall," 24 May 2018 With the exception of shimmering, Castigliano was spot-on. Danielle Mcnally, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle's Second Wedding Is Stella McCartney—​and, Surprise, It's Gorgeous," 19 May 2018 Porterfield has become a father and gotten sober since his last record, and the new album embraces a new sound with more roots and shimmering pop hooks. Erin Richards, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Eaux Claires IV review: Day 1 music," 7 July 2018 Shortly before her death, the Princess could often be seen in pinstriped power suits and shimmering bodycon mini-dresses., "20 Years Later, Fashion Is Still Obsessed With Princess Diana," 1 July 2018 There was plenty of leopard print, shimmering fabrics, and eye-catching patterns to boot. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Rowan Blanchard, Sadie Sink, and More Celebs Walk in the Miu Miu Resort 2019 Show," 1 July 2018 Three more breezy statements came by way of Martha Hunt’s wispy pulled-back updo, Adwoa Aboah’s shimmering lavender lids, and Natalie Portman’s poppy red lip—the latter of which provided melt-proof heat wave inspiration for city dwellers everywhere. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The 10 Best Beauty Looks: Week of June 18, 2018," 19 June 2018 As the banter continues, the African pendants worn by both shimmer in the sunlight. Aaron Carter,, "Germantown Friends' McKoy twins will continue track careers at Lafayette, Lehigh," 2 June 2018 Each palette contains six matte, satin, and shimmer shades for a subtle flush of color or a bronzed, beachy glow. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "Ulta and NARS Launch Limited-Edition Spring Collection," 5 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat until oil shimmers. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Table for 1: For solo diners, cooking at home offers many perks," 12 July 2018 Once the oil shimmers, add the eggplant cubes, sprinkle with the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the cubes are browned and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Joe Yonan, The Seattle Times, "This spicy eggplant dish is a riot of textures and flavors," 26 June 2018 Sitting under the relentless blue lights and crystalline shimmer in this new world under the sea, the sensation’s gone from disco to aquarium, surrounded by an inchoate tumble of pretty things. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Review: Reborn Rebelle now San Antonio’s finest seafood restaurant," 14 June 2018 There are deep-sea fish that flash, glow and shimmer to communicate, lure prey or illuminate their way. The Economist, "The secret life of fish," 10 May 2018 The towering luminary shimmers in top-to-bottom blue light and is honestly quite a sight. Adam Lukach, RedEye Chicago, "Get in the holiday spirit with these 10 Christmas activities in Chicago," 14 Dec. 2017 Unlike some other transparent blurring formulas (like Milk Makeup’s Luminous Blur Stick) Fresh & Perfect is shimmer-free — perfect for days when the humidity index is giving you plenty of natural pearlescent shine. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "Dior Beauty's New Dreamskin Fresh & Perfect Cushion Compact Is More Filter Than Foundation," 10 July 2018 Then, the air needs to be still for a few days, and the sky needs to be perfectly clear, without a wisp of a cloud or a shimmer of diamond dust above the ice sheet. National Geographic, "Coldest Place on Earth Found—Here's How," 27 June 2018 There are four matte and metallic eye pencils in shades: Immortal (bronze shimmer), Copper Foil (shimmery copper), Rustique (golden terra-cotta), and Cocoa (deep chocolate brown). Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "This Palette Was Made for Doing Makeup on the Go," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shimmer.' 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 shimmer


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


1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shimmer


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

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Dictionary Entries near shimmer






shimmy shirt


Statistics for shimmer

Last Updated

23 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shimmer

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

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More Definitions for shimmer



English Language Learners Definition of shimmer

: to shine with a light that seems to move slightly


shim·mer | \ ˈshi-mər \
shimmered; shimmering

Kids Definition of shimmer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to shine with a wavering light : glimmer



Kids Definition of shimmer (Entry 2 of 2)

: a wavering light the shimmer of silver leaves

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Comments on shimmer

What made you want to look up shimmer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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