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

This year, pinners are particularly excited to celebrate with metallic eyeshadow, berry lipstick, shimmering nails, and golden hairpins. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Pinterest Shared Its Most Popular Holiday Beauty Routines for 2018," 6 Nov. 2018 Let your lips shimmer as bright as the moon with MAKE's Cream Luminous Lip Gloss, available in six colors. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "Make Beauty Is Having a Big Sale on Its Makeup and Skin Care to Celebrate the Full Moon," 25 Oct. 2018 She's also taken to the stage several times in shimmering shirts paired with skinny jeans or faux leather leggings. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Here’s Proof That Carrie Underwood Is the Best-Dressed Pregnant Woman Ever," 7 Oct. 2018 Designers have a second bridge in the planning, this one a silver strand of God’s hair to connect with the gold already shimmering through the hills. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "Wild New Pedestrian Bridge Walks Visitors Through 'Hands of God'," 1 Aug. 2018 To hear Leung’s sweet tones and intricate melodic filigree set against Davis’ shimmering orchestral backdrop was to realize instantly the potential of the composer’s cross-cultural enterprise. Howard Reich,, "Chicago Jazz Philharmonic delivers urgent message with 'Chicago Immigrant Stories'," 15 June 2018 There are shimmering light effects and surprising views created by reflective ceilings, a shallow triangular pool, and unexpected geometry. Giovanna Dunmall, Curbed, "Inside the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion 2018 designed by Frida Escobedo," 15 June 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The word mica, from the Latin micare—to shine, flash, or glitter—actually refers to a group of 37 crystalline minerals that have dozens of industrial applications and are used to add shimmer to everything from car paints to cosmetics. Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, Marie Claire, "Is Your Makeup the Result of Child Labor?," 16 Oct. 2018 Sparkle and shimmer and deep, rich romantic hues ruled the fashions. Nikki Delamotte,, "Lakewood High School celebrates prom at Ariel International Center (photos)," 29 Apr. 2018 The former laid down a soft pink sheen, and the latter added champagne shimmer. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "Here's Every Single Fenty Product Rihanna Wore for Her Grammys Performance," 29 Jan. 2018 Never one to follow the rules, the free-spirited Lobell shot shimmer and sparkle through her flirty lip, eye, and face products and branded them with sprightly, stylish cartoon women. Kathleen Hackett, ELLE Decor, "All in the Family," 4 Oct. 2010 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

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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Learn More about shimmer

Dictionary Entries near shimmer






shimmy shirt


Statistics for shimmer

Last Updated

15 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

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by force of circumstances

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