\ ˈskim How to pronounce skim (audio) \
skimmed; skimming

Definition of skim

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to clear (a liquid) of scum or floating substance skim boiling syrup
b : to remove (a film, a layer of scum, etc.) from the surface of a liquid
c : to remove cream from by skimming
d : to remove the best or most easily obtainable contents from
2 : to read, study, or examine superficially and rapidly especially : to glance through (something, such as a book) for the chief ideas or the plot
3 : to throw in a gliding path especially : to throw so as to ricochet along the surface of water
4 : to cover with or as if with a film, scum, or coat
5 : to pass swiftly or lightly over
6a : to remove or conceal (money, such as a portion of casino profits) to avoid payment of taxes
b : embezzle skimming money from employee pension plans

intransitive verb

1a : to pass lightly or hastily : glide or skip along, above, or near a surface
b : to give a cursory glance, consideration, or reading
2 : to become coated with a thin layer of film or scum
3 : to put on a finishing coat of plaster
4 : to embezzle money



Definition of skim (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a thin layer, coating, or film
2 : the act of skimming
3 : something skimmed specifically : skim milk



Definition of skim (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : having the cream removed by skimming
2 : made of skim milk skim cheese

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Synonyms for skim

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of skim in a Sentence

Verb He skimmed the leaves from the pool. The cream is skimmed from the milk. The milk is skimmed before it is bottled. She only skimmed the reading assignment. She only skimmed through the reading assignment.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet deregulation also created opportunities for new layers of middlemen to skim profits off an essential service. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Texas’s Energy Crisis Is America’s Future," 19 Feb. 2021 Few will read Riesman’s biography principally for its account of Lee’s last decades, but no responsible narrative could skim over them. Stephanie Burt, The New Yorker, "Who Really Created the Marvel Universe?," 8 Feb. 2021 The Buccaneers didn’t even give him time to skim their defense in the Super Bowl. oregonlive, "Tom Brady, fierce defense power Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a shocking rout over Kansas City in Super Bowl 55," 7 Feb. 2021 While Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin expect to start flying customers later this year, their craft will just briefly skim the surface of space. Marcia Dunn, Chron, "US billionaire buys SpaceX flight to orbit with 3 others," 1 Feb. 2021 Each thing said seems to skim above a deep pool of the unsaid. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "Conversation over video is maddening. So take a lesson from literature’s great dialogue writers.," 8 July 2020 Let the broth settle for about 5 minutes, then, using a large spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the surface. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Four chicken soup recipes to soothe the soul this winter," 20 Jan. 2021 Each conversation with him is tinged with the sadness of arriving at the last page of a good book; I am torn between the necessity of shutting it, and the desire to skim the best passages again. Bindu Bansinath, Bon Appétit, "After a Life-Changing Injury, I Had to Eat to Heal," 8 Dec. 2020 The birds fly low and skim the water’s surface with their lower bill, catching bait fish along the way. Karl Schneider, USA TODAY, "Over 100 young seabirds got sick or died in Florida this summer from a mystery illness. Officials now know what it was.," 5 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Bring to a medium boil (this can take 5 to 10 minutes), skim froth from the surface using a large spoon and discard froth. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, "Give your new year an auspicious start with a warming soup full of a black-eyed peas and winter greens," 31 Dec. 2020 The simple, two-ingredient cheese topping features part-skim ricotta cheese. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Two ingredient bruschetta topping is low-fat and easy to prepare," 17 Dec. 2020 Per ounce, fresh mozzarella has about 85 milligrams of sodium compared to 150 milligrams in part-skim mozzarella. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Watermelon appetizer loaded with nutritious lycopene," 5 Sep. 2020 Some cities open up manholes and skim off the wastewater over a period of 24 hours; this method reflects Covid-19 activity in a smaller geographic location. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "Cities are using poop to look for early Covid-19 outbreaks," 3 Sep. 2020 My designs often feature plunging necklines and silhouettes that skim over your body or lightly hug your curves. Alison S. Cohn, Harper's BAZAAR, "Six Black Female Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing Their Industries For Good," 25 Aug. 2020 Then watch your fly skim lightly and erratically across the current. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "Skate, Skitter, and Twitch Dry Flies for Trout," 26 June 2020 Use the table of contents to jump to a certain section or skim at your leisure. Quartz Staff, Quartz, "The coronavirus living briefing," 8 May 2020 And that those ages 2 and up switch to 1-percent or nonfat (skim) to decrease their saturated fat intake. Alice Callahan, New York Times, "A Guide to the Universe of Milks," 16 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'skim.' 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 skim


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for skim


Middle English skymmen, skemen, probably from Anglo-French escumer, from escume foam, scum, of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch schum scum — more at scum

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Time Traveler for skim

Time Traveler

The first known use of skim was in the 14th century

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Statistics for skim

Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Skim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for skim



English Language Learners Definition of skim

: to remove a layer of something from the surface of a liquid
: to look over or read (something) quickly especially to find the main ideas
British : to throw (a flat stone) along the surface of water so that it bounces


\ ˈskim How to pronounce skim (audio) \
skimmed; skimming

Kids Definition of skim

1 : to clean a liquid of scum or floating substance : remove (as cream or film) from the top part of a liquid
2 : to read or examine quickly and not thoroughly I skimmed the newspaper.
3 : to skip (a stone) along the surface of water
4 : to pass swiftly or lightly over He brushed the treetops / And skimmed the grass …— Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

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More from Merriam-Webster on skim

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for skim

Nglish: Translation of skim for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of skim for Arabic Speakers

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