shim·​mer | \ ˈshi-mər How to pronounce shimmer (audio) \
shimmered; shimmering\ ˈshi-​mə-​riŋ How to pronounce shimmer (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 shimmer (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 During the summer, the air seems to shimmer, casting a magical, muggy haze over everything. Ew Staff,, "Excerpt: See how Sarah Kuhn's From Little Tokyo, With Love reinvents the fairy tale," 6 May 2021 These backdrops shimmer and swell around her voice, and bells chime distantly and birds chirp in the fuzzy gauze. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, "Marianne Faithfull Bares Her Poetic Soul on ‘She Walks in Beauty’," 29 Apr. 2021 The sonic effects — all the stereo panning, the way the drums shimmer, that omnipresent wah-wah guitar — are placed with wizardly detail. Vulture Editors, Vulture, "101 Trippy Movies, Albums, Books, TV Shows, and More.," 20 Apr. 2021 The statistics already shimmer on Lindor’s Baseball Reference page, tantalizing Mets fans who see him as the foundation of the future, as long as the Mets can sign him to a contract extension, either now or at the end of the season. New York Times, "Hernandez and Strawberry. Reyes and Wright. Lindor?," 31 Mar. 2021 The Chipotle Eyeshadow Palette includes matte and shimmer pigments that mimic the earthy tones of your favorite burrito bowl. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Chipotle is Releasing An e.l.f. Cosmetics Makeup Collection Inspired By Their Menu," 4 Mar. 2021 The rest consume insects, which means the bat droppings shimmer with iridescent residue from bug wings. New York Times, "Thai Caves Attract Millions of Bats — and Now Scientists Too," 17 Jan. 2021 So keep your eye on the aspens: their white trunks gleam in the fall sun, and their yellow leaves shake and shimmer, like so many tiny hands waving you in the right direction. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "How to Hunt Ruffed Grouse," 24 Dec. 2020 The beats are crisp and forceful, and the synths float and shimmer. Mark Richardson, WSJ, "‘Man on the Moon III: The Chosen’ by Kid Cudi Review: Making Personal Problems Sound Good," 14 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The company created its New York Powders as a small batch of multifunctional powders that offer shimmer and glamour to any woman’s look. Robin Raven, Forbes, "Mother’s Day Gift Guide: The Best Vegan Makeup For Traveling Moms," 27 Apr. 2021 The Reese's White Chocolate Palette includes a mix of six lighter shades in matte, shimmer and glitter finishes. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, "HipDot Cosmetics Just Dropped a Reese's Makeup Collection," 15 Apr. 2021 Not overly sparkly or metallic, stardust shadow sits somewhere between a shimmer and a glitter. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, "Stardust Shadow Is Spring's Prettiest Makeup Trend," 8 Apr. 2021 Chalk it up to the marginal chassis shimmer and slight lag between steering input and its translation to the 18-inch wheels, shod in Continental Cross Contact tires, that figure into the equation. Viju Mathew, Robb Report, "First Drive: Why We’re Amped on This Electric Range Rover Classic," 6 Apr. 2021 Located on Rum Point, North Side, Cayman Islands, this three bedroom, three-and-a-half bath stay is perfect for six people to relax and get their shimmer back. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "These Colorful Vacation Rentals Are Perfect for Your Own 'Barb and Star' Beach Trip," 14 Mar. 2021 Cornstarch especially shines in something like a stir-fry sauce, thanks to its translucent shimmer, Rees says. Washington Post, "A guide to cornstarch, tapioca, potato starch and other thickeners," 22 Feb. 2021 Best of all might be Vetiveria, which stands out amongst the many vetiver scents that shimmer then fade, presenting real Haitian vetiver with a powerful, smoky backdrop of woods and a sharp note of lentisque. Alexander Freeling, Robb Report, "This Young Fragrance House’s Perfumes, Rich With Floral Notes, Are Made Entirely by Hand in San Antonio," 13 Apr. 2021 By the time our liquid floor show was ferried up the steep stairs and onto the front patio, only a shimmer of blue fire remained. Washington Post, "Swahili Village brings a taste of African fine dining to D.C.," 2 Apr. 2021

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

Time Traveler for shimmer

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shimmer

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shimmer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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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