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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Step 2 While the water is heating, in a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Washington Post, "Orecchiette With Borlotti Beans, Bitter Greens and Lemony Bread Crumbs," 2 Feb. 2020 In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Chinese New Year recipe: Easy dumplings symbolize wealth and prosperity," 1 Feb. 2020 Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pan until shimmering. Paul Stephen,, "Recipe: Chickpea Flour Fried Chicken," 8 Jan. 2020 On to the black beans: Heat the oil until shimmering in a large skillet over medium heat. Special To The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "The secret to these chili lime black bean tacos: 20 minutes and a few pantry staples," 25 Oct. 2019 In a large pot over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Ellie Krieger,, "A luxuriously creamy soup without a speck of dairy? Yes, please!," 18 Oct. 2019 Onstage, Yola shimmered with a deliberate exuberance that deserved an even fuller, bigger band than the four-piece band that accompanied her. Washington Post, "At the 9:30 Club, singer Yola delivers a soul-searing performance," 11 Jan. 2020 But that wasn’t the only compelling variation: Anthony Ross and the cellos made something mournful of the 12th, while the 13th shimmered darkly, Gabriel Campos Zamora’s clarinet singing like a mythological siren on distant rocks. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Classical review: Minnesota Orchestra captivates with intimacy and beauty in season opener," 19 Sep. 2019 Beams of chandelier and candlelight would shimmer, shadows of uncles leaning back in their chairs would stretch across the walls and bend into the ceilings., "Why I still roast a turkey on Thanksgiving - The Boston Globe," 21 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 When the oil shimmers, add half the mushrooms in a single layer. Los Angeles Times, "Mushrooms star in this easy recipe from Tacos 1986," 22 Oct. 2019 Using the chrome, matte, shimmer, and satin finishes, any makeup lover can create tons of unique looks. Jessica Kasparian, USA TODAY, "Black Friday 2019: The best early Sephora deals available right now," 26 Nov. 2019 The sea’s surface shimmers, iridescent; a cloud slips across the sun, and all becomes dark violet, blind depths. Peter Rock, New York Times, "Around Milos, Swimming the Aegean Sea," 14 Nov. 2019 Also in the lineup: a mesmerizing teal, a denim blue, and a ballet pink — all with a slight shimmer. Karina Hoshikawa,, "Chanel Just Dropped 6 Metallic Nail Polishes — & We Want Them All," 5 July 2019 Since Rihanna brought body shimmer back from the grave last year, it's been having somewhat of a renaissance, along with body makeup. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, "We Put Kim Kardashian's New KKW Body Foundation to the Test," 29 June 2019 Just look for a funky glitter polish with an iridescent shimmer to copy this look. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "25 Homecoming Nail Ideas That'll Help You Stand Out," 25 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shimmer

Time Traveler for shimmer

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for shimmer

Last Updated

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shimmer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!