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

In a wok or medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over high heat until shimmering. Max Falkowitz, WSJ, "Flake News: Fresh Coconut Is Delicious," 23 Nov. 2018 The space seems hardly touched, with the same spectacular window onto the Atlantic wrapped in shimmering tiled floors and pearl-like chandeliers that frame the view. Craig Laban,, "Atlantic City restaurants: New casinos, diverse independent spots create rising culinary energy," 6 July 2018 In a large sauté pan, heat grape-seed oil over a high heat until shimmering. Tyler Florence, House Beautiful, "Tyler Florence's Salmon with Morels and Pea Risotto Recipe," 4 Mar. 2011 Glossy black candlesticks by Aesa and shimmering Tom Dixon light fixtures suggest movement, as though they’ve just been blopped down on the table or, like soap bubbles, are wobbling through the air. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Some people feel a tenderness toward bulbous candles and planters. Why?," 21 Dec. 2018 Paired with a dollop of shimmering body oil and, for many an It-girl, a weekly Pilates session or two, the trend is likely to stick around as awards season picks up speed come January. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "10 Beauty Trends That Broke The Internet in 2018," 6 Dec. 2018 Her lids were coated in a similar shade of shimmering shadow, and her lashes were sky-high and bold in black. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ashley Benson Wore Blue Glitter Eyeliner," 28 Sep. 2018 Anchoring the new wing of the wonderful and wonderfully weird Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), seven miles upriver from downtown Hobart, Tasmania, Faro is reached via a tunnel of shimmering light made by the American artist James Turrell. Adam Sachs, Town & Country, "How Tasmania Became the Food World’s Newest Culinary Odyssey," 20 Sep. 2018 The temporary store, which opened June 20, is stocked with products that typically sell out online within minutes of launching, such as the Ultralight Beams Collection of shimmering loose powder and KKW Beauty’s Crème Lipsticks. Kavita Daswani,, "Kim Kardashian pop-up comes to Century City; Fendi, Rimowa team on new round of stylish luggage," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Keep it all in balance with a more subdued top and shoes, with a bag that has just a hint of shimmer. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "6 Chic New Years Eve Outfit Ideas," 17 Dec. 2018 Curry also found strong expressions in red and deeper shades of red, first with chicken, coconut milk and aromatic basil and again with a panang-style duck curry bristling with bell peppers and acidic shimmers of lime. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Review: Dominion spot Kin Thai & Sushi makes sushi and Thai a happy couple," 24 May 2018 Gold and pink shimmers with an accent of mint shadow for a totally Instagrammable contrast. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "Smashbox Teamed Up with Influencer Jasmine Sanders to Launch 7 New Mini Eye Palettes," 11 July 2018 Dolce & Gabbana’s full-length dress shimmers with what looks like pieces of a religious mosaic. Mary Forgione,, "Five museum fashion shows not to miss, with items from Britain's royals and Frida Kahlo's closet," 30 Mar. 2018 Released earlier this year, the product quickly gained the support of Fenty fans for its flattering shade of shimmer. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Fenty Beauty Has Relaunched Its Iconic Body Lava," 21 Nov. 2018 Disco balls hanging on swaying palm trees shone on guests in black tie adorned with retro touches like solid gold accessories and tons of shimmer. Micaela English, Town & Country, "The Disco Ball," 4 Mar. 2013 Packaged in an adorable brown tin with pretend icing piped details, the Ginger Spice Eyeshadow Palette contains 18 shades of delicate nudes, rich shimmers, and brilliant mattes. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "What Too Faced’s Gingerbread Spice Eyeshadow Palette Looks Like on 19 Different Skin Tones," 9 Nov. 2018 Today, more than 30 years after the fire, the Central Library shimmers like a distinctly urban phoenix. Jane Kamensky, WSJ, "‘The Library Book’ Review: The People’s Palace," 11 Oct. 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

11 Jan 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on shimmer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shimmer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shimmer

Spanish Central: Translation of shimmer

Nglish: Translation of shimmer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shimmer for Arabic Speakers

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).


to settle judicially or to act as judge

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