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

Verb The road shimmered in the heat. a sequined dress shimmering under the studio lights
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Vanessa is trying to get to the facts while other people — a journalist, her parents, her classmates, her therapist — are trying to uncover facts, too, but the facts themselves shimmer in the sunlight. Katie Roiphe, New York Times, "Girl, Interrupted," 10 Mar. 2020 Karlie Kloss stunned in a white suit while Charlize Theron shimmered in a black gown. Vogue, "Inside the Guggenheim’s Annual Dior-Filled Gala," 18 Nov. 2019 Camping at Lake Pleasant Imagine starry nights or the light of a full moon shimmering on the water. Snag a campsite to enjoy that show. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Lake Pleasant is a desert oasis near Phoenix. Here's everything you can do there," 4 Mar. 2020 Makeup artist Scott Barnes used a full face of Marc Jacobs Beauty to create a J. Lo glow (complete with layers upon layers of gold shadow) that shimmered even with the stadium lights out. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Jennifer Lopez and Shakira Just Made Super Bowl Makeup History," 3 Feb. 2020 The entire boreal forest was layered in what looked to me like shimmering snow. National Geographic, "At a grueling subarctic race, a photographer finds calm," 31 Jan. 2020 Naturally, the fifth act ends with something that feels like a beginning: a hazy orange sunrise, shimmering across a waterlogged town the morning after a terrible storm. Laura Hudson, Wired, "The Tragedy and Mystery of the ‘Best Game of the Decade’," 29 Jan. 2020 The French perfected the delicate stippled punching of gold leaf that shimmers when light hits the surface. Willard Spiegelman, WSJ, "A Mystery Meets the Mystical," 17 Jan. 2020 For those in especially dim parts of the Northern Hemisphere, more than 100 meteors might shimmer through the skies every hour. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "How to Catch the Quadrantids, the First Major Meteor Shower of the 2020s," 30 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But there’s one family member has never gotten to try her hand at liquid lipsticks, blushes, and shimmers: Kendall Jenner. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Kendall and Kylie Jenner Are Finally Collaborating on a Makeup Line," 31 Jan. 2020 For the Virgos, the recommended look something earthy with just a little shimmer. Angela Trakoshis, Allure, "This Astrology Account Is Dropping Retro-Inspired Makeup Tutorials Based on Your Sign," 19 Mar. 2020 Salonen elicited eerily beautiful sonorities from Weill’s strange orchestration—for example, a slow-motion, proto-minimalist shimmer of winds in the third movement. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The L.A. Philharmonic Revisits the Weimar Republic," 9 Mar. 2020 Nyx's Born to Glow imparts a gorgeous, super-intense shimmer. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "Gold Highlighter Looks Amazing on Literally Everyone," 2 Oct. 2018 Bales of hay and towering wind turbines dot the landscape; fields of ripening corn shimmer in the afternoon sun. TheWeek, "Traveling across Belgium to build a better meatball," 2 Feb. 2020 And her teardrop diamond earrings by Roxanne Assoulin accentuated the extra shimmer around the edges of her dress. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Selena Gomez Is Pretty in Pink With Her Retro Glam Get-Up on 'Fallon': See the Pic," 14 Jan. 2020 Add a dash of vegetable oil to a skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Cathy Barrow, Washington Post, "Build a better breakfast sandwich with this homemade turkey sausage patty," 28 Jan. 2020 Heat in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil When the oil shimmers, add: 2 tablespoons gochujang 3 garlic cloves, minced Allow the gochujang to fry until the oil is bright red, about 1 minute. Robin Mather, Twin Cities, "New ‘Joy of Cooking’ is a masterwork that will erase any reservations about past editions," 24 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for shimmer

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shimmer

Last Updated

4 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shimmer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for shimmer


How to pronounce shimmer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shimmer

: to shine with a light that seems to move slightly


shim·​mer | \ ˈshi-mər How to pronounce shimmer (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on shimmer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shimmer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shimmer

Spanish Central: Translation of shimmer

Nglish: Translation of shimmer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shimmer for Arabic Speakers

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