\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

Yesterday in New York City, the super showed off brunette lengths styled to skim her waist, the collective of bouncy, glossy curls designed for coquettish hair flips and ample finger raking. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Bella Hadid Steps Out in Shockingly Long Hair in New York City," 8 June 2018 For a year and a half, the crew installed skimming devices and made unauthorized withdrawals in seven states, including Massachusetts, according to authorities. Danny Mcdonald,, "Federal judge in Boston sentences two women for ATM-skimming scheme," 16 Mar. 2018 Using a slotted spoon, skim the solids from the top of the container and discard. San Antonio Express-News, "Recipe: Tepache pineapple drink," 3 July 2018 Who was Blanchett, other than a shaggy-haired bar owner skimming profits and watering down her vodka? Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "Why calling women 'strong female leads' is degrading," 2 July 2018 At-front strands cut to skim cheekbones (and remain long enough for a bit of behind-ear tucking) are back again. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Bella Hadid's New Haircut Takes a Page From This Iconic Former First Lady," 20 June 2018 The shorts, covered in silver studs along the backside with thigh-skimming fringe, were an attention-grabbing addition to an otherwise straightforward outfit, a fact the star highlighted with a cheeky Instagram update. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Beyoncé Has Found Summer’s Perfect Cut-Offs," 12 July 2018 Matt Cardy Getty Images The recent credit card breach at Ticketmaster was actually just a small part of a much larger credit card skimming operation, new research shows. Emily Price, Fortune, "Ticketmaster's Recent Breach Might Have Been Part of a Bigger Attack," 10 July 2018 The show tends to skim the surface of its heavy subtext, and is quick to turn drama into a punch line, regardless of where the drama comes from or at whose expense the comedy hits. Sonia Saraiya, HWD, "Marc Maron Is Great in GLOW, and Maybe That’s a Problem," 29 June 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



Statistics for skim

Last Updated

3 Nov 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).


playful or foolish behavior

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