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

The ceiling looked as though skeins of lace had been stretched across it and magically turned to stone; the windows shimmered as if gemstones had been pressed into glass. Joanna Pocock,, "Watching the royal wedding on the telly? Here's what you need to know about St. George's Chapel and Windsor Castle," 13 May 2018 Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in your Dutch oven up over medium-high heat, and when the oil starts to shimmer and smoke, carefully lower the pork shoulder in fatty side-down. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appetit, "The $50 Dinner Party You Can Completely Make Ahead," 18 Jan. 2018 But the silver Super Bowl LII logo on the right side of Gray’s jersey sparkled and shimmered. Les Bowen,, "Rubbing it in: Eagles fans enjoy basking in Super success at Dallas draft," 26 Apr. 2018 Star Vasha squeezes into a shimmering yellow gown, wrists draped in strings of pearls. NBC News, "On stage, Russian drag stars leave fears behind," 10 July 2018 The video opens with the ocean glittering behind Ten’s shimmering form, as he is illuminated by lights attached to his shirt. Caitlin Kelley, Billboard, "NCT's Ten Saves the Day on SM Station Track, 'New Heroes'," 6 Apr. 2018 And hushed awe and wonder filled that vast company…. Then upon another hilltop rang out the Easter sunrise trumpet call, sounded by the sisters Lorene and Alberta Lavis, in shimmering white angel gowns. Scott Harrison,, "From the Archives: Celebrating Easter," 30 Mar. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Others chose a sleek classic style, with perfect glitz, sparkle and shimmer that was just right for a beautiful night out. Anne Nickoloff,, "North Olmsted High School celebrates 2018 prom at La Centre (photos)," 13 May 2018 Look for the same shimmer and shine for your formal Kentucky Derby wear but also to show up in more muted ways on t-shirts and accessories. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Crazy for color, ruffles and gold: The Kentucky Derby fashion trends you'll see this year," 22 Mar. 2018 Delicate, personal jewelry and oversize hoops finished the look with subtle shimmer, while a notebook and camera were Gomez’s other essential accessories. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Selena Gomez Debuts a New Contender for Vacation Shoe of the Summer," 20 June 2018 Right Now The second step is shimmer, because Rihanna loves to glow. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "We Tried Every Fenty Beauty Product—Here's What You Need To Know," 7 Sep. 2017 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

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

1 Nov 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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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