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


The road shimmered in the heat. a sequined dress shimmering under the studio lights

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

With practiced expertise, a middle-aged beekeeper named Hatidze makes her way along a rocky cliff and pulls aside a few stones to reveal row after precious row of golden honeycomb, shimmering like treasure buried in the mountainside. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Honeyland’ is a heartbreaking documentary about a vanishing way of life," 25 July 2019 Long-term investors love this kind of setup, wherein higher profits shimmer on the horizon. Adam Seessel, Fortune, "Valuation: Could WeChat Sink Tencent’s Stock?," 25 July 2019 No dirt here — just a very, very bright planet shimmering above our heads and right in front of our faces. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Saturn and its rings will be visible tonight; here’s when and where to watch," 9 July 2019 Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to large skillet and heat until shimmering but not smoking. Ann Maloney,, "The thighs have it! Chicken pieces keep juicy flavor," 25 June 2019 Fried sides: Onion rings ($3.99) gave off a nice shower of golden shale with every bite, with shimmering sweet onions underneath. Mike Sutter,, "52 Weeks of Burgers: Big’z Burger Joint," 21 June 2019 And while their outfits aren't as identical as their respectively brunette and blonde braids, both dresses are shimmering Missoni designs. Marci Robin, Allure, "Kylie Jenner and Best Friend Stassie Karanikolaou Got Super-Long Matching Braids," 20 July 2019 The bacon shimmered like a slug after a rainstorm: cooked, but pale and, well, flaccid. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, "Is it hot enough to fry an egg outside? We got cracking to find out.," 20 July 2019 The sun shimmers in the windows of beachside apartments and creates a changing canvas of colours behind the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain. Sarah Esther Maslin, 1843, "Rio is a riot in the early hours," 4 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Gold domes in the vicinity of the Avenue of the Americas shimmer in the distance. New York Times, "Now That’s a City View," 19 July 2019 Behind the desk, the East River shimmers while the sun, now risen, beams through a window as small vessels float by and cars scurry along the Brooklyn Bridge like ants in a row. Kaelen Jones,, "'It Don't Stop': Jalen Rose's Work Days Are a Whirlwind," 11 July 2019 The onset of spring has welcomed a new batch of body shimmers to the bunch. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "The 5 Best Body Oils For the Ultimate Summer Glow-Up," 6 June 2019 It was added on top of Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Hu$tla Baby to add extra sparkle to the subtle peachy shimmer. Marci Robin, Allure, "Rihanna Wore Fenty Beauty's New Diamond Bomb to the Diamond Ball, Of Course," 14 Sep. 2018 Red for a sheer tint and holographic for a rose gold shimmer. Michelle Li, Teen Vogue, "This New Glossier Lip Gloss Is Michelle Obama Approved," 9 July 2019 Embrace an ethos of artfully undone rather than classically done-up—and when in doubt, add a touch of shimmer. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Let Margot Robbie Be Your Guide to Modern Bohemian Beauty," 6 June 2019 The star of the collection is arguably the Eyeshadow Palette (above), which includes 15 colors — mostly shimmers with a few mattes thrown in — for just $20. Marci Robin, Allure, "Ulta and Marvel Are Launching an Avengers Makeup Collection, and the Prices Are Heroic," 31 Mar. 2019 Vo's advice? Dab a wash of shimmer with a purple undertone on the tops of cheekbones and the inner corners of the eye for a fun take on highlighter. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "5 Playful Makeup Ideas to Consider This Spring," 18 Mar. 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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Dictionary Entries near shimmer






shimmy shirt


Statistics for shimmer

Last Updated

9 Aug 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 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

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 shake or wave menacingly

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