\ ˈskim \
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 & Antonyms for skim

Synonyms: Verb

bowl, breeze, brush, coast, cruise, drift, flow, glide, roll, sail, slide, slip, stream, sweep, whisk

Antonyms: Verb

flounder, struggle

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Examples of skim in a Sentence


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

In Act 3, someone like Ahrens takes the money out of the bank account, usually skims some for herself and moves it to the scammers. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "Those threatening scam IRS phone calls? Somebody's going to jail for them," 10 July 2018 Simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours, skimming as necessary. Daniel Neman, sacbee, "Main dishes? Fruit is not forbidden," 26 June 2018 The money first passes through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will skim off $75,000 for itself. Tristan Baurick,, "Fight against Louisiana's wetland plague getting $1 million boost," 16 May 2018 The ruching detail at the hip was a cool puncutation and created a body-skimming silhouette, which was amped up by neutral tone stilettos. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle Make Their First Solo Outing at the Wimbledon’s Women’s Final—In Two Very Different Looks," 14 July 2018 The football skimmed off the fingers of Giants linebacker Byron Hunt, climbed, waffled, arced and clambered over the crossbar 42 yards away. Michael Farber,, "Mark Moseley, Last of the Straight-On Kickers," 2 July 2018 Markle's bespoke Stella McCartney look featured a high collar neck and body-skimming A-line silhouette. Chrissy Rutherford, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Meghan Markle is Honoring Princess Diana at the Reception," 19 May 2018 Serena Williams wowed in her body-skimming Versace. Elizabeth Wellington,, "Royal wedding fashion: Meghan Markle sparkles in Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy | Elizabeth Wellington," 19 May 2018 But Gallahadion, who had been second to Bimelech a week earlier in Churchill Downs’ Derby Trial, excelled over a cuppy track, getting a rail-skimming ride from jockey Carroll Bierman to beat Bimelech by 1 ½ lengths in the Derby. Gabe Hauari, The Courier-Journal, "What Kentucky Derby horse won with the longest odds? Here are the top 10," 4 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The cereal offerings on the menu ($5) can be topped with whole, skim, soy, and chocolate milks. Michael Klein,, "Cereal and ice cream, together at Moo Moo Cereal Milk Bar," 5 July 2018 Cover the filling with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skim from forming. 7. Lauren Delgado,, "Royal Wedding Pie celebrates upcoming nuptials - and pie," 18 May 2018 The tradition for the winner of the Indy 500 is celebrating with a bottle of milk, and the drivers are polled to select a preference: whole, 2 percent or skim. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "Indy 500 winner Will Power says he actually has strong willpower," 28 May 2018 Meanwhile coaches, athletics directors and vice chancellors make seven-figure salaries off the kids' sweat and take the skim from $10 billion in deals with television and apparel companies. Sally Jenkins,, "As Arike Ogunbowale dances with gusto, the NCAA sidesteps with cowardice," 2 May 2018 For instance, the various right whales use skim-feeding, swimming with their mouths open at the surface to strain out prey. National Geographic, "Prehistoric Toothless Whale Among Oldest of Its Kind," 19 Apr. 2018 There are warmer temperatures, no lift lines, and plenty of season-ending parties and pond skims. Frederick Reimers, Outside Online, "Why You Should Buy a Ski Pass Right Now," 6 Apr. 2018 A half day of snorkeling, boogie boarding, skim boarding, paddle boarding, surfing, fishing., "events by county," 28 Mar. 2018 Milk itself comes in many varieties, from fat-free (skim) to whole, organic and lactose free. Samantha Cassetty, NBC News, "What a registered dietitian wants you to know about all those "milks" in the grocery store.," 7 Feb. 2018

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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Learn More about skim

Dictionary Entries near skim





ski mask



Phrases Related to skim

skim off

Statistics for skim

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for skim

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

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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

: to throw (a flat stone) along the surface of water so that it bounces


\ ˈskim \
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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Comments on skim

What made you want to look up skim? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

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