\ 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Every piece boasts artful and intentional tailoring: cutouts that skim the sides of stretchy black pants and a tank top with a just-so extended sleeve for asymmetrical flair. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 5 Aug. 2022 Abraham’s choreographic palette is full of sensual, deeply weighted, broadly sweeping phrases that skim the ground with both a palpable quietude and an expansive grandeur. Janine Parker,, 14 July 2022 Depending on the system, HR professionals can manually review resumes, but recruiters generally skim and only take about six seconds per applicant. Kara Dennison, Forbes, 27 June 2022 Whenever a story with a wild headline came her way, Mary Rose Filgueiras Lacerda used to skim it and forward it on without any second thoughts. Ana Ionova, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 May 2022 The crossover runs in displacement mode at 10 or 12 knots, then transitions at higher speeds to skim along the water. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 14 July 2022 Some may just want to skim your key-takeaway blog posts. Miriam Ravkin, Forbes, 29 June 2022 So besides leaving out an enormous chunk of the grid, tax credits currently allow a small group of big banks to skim massive fees off the top of public funds ostensibly meant to drive decarbonization. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 22 June 2022 To some people, a roller rink is just a place to skim around in a circle, not even very fast, going nowhere. New York Times, 21 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Substitute canned for whole milk (may curdle if cooked too long at high temperature); coconut milk beverage is fine for drinking or as a substitute for skim, reduced- or low-fat milk. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, 20 June 2022 So skim through our favorite flower quotes, and get ready to celebrate beauty, joy, and new beginnings! Rebekah Lowin, Country Living, 13 July 2022 All of that costs money, and a farm or creamery can’t survive without taking their fair skim. Noah Lederman, Bon Appétit, 9 June 2022 Why does the Indianapolis 500 winner drink milk:Whole, 2% or skim — but no buttermilk! Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 29 May 2022 Apply a second skim coat of compound, overlapping the edges a little to fill in any imperfections. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, 2 May 2022 In addition to the pond skim on Saturday, there will be a costume contest, an idiot swim, live music, a downhill bike race, and more. Naomi Stock, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Apr. 2022 Loose circles of ice floated in harbor, and the hull broke through a skim of shore ice as the crew tied the boat to the Trident Seafoods dock. Anchorage Daily News, 4 Apr. 2022 Costumes are required for the pond skim contest, which costs $20 to enter. Naomi Stock, Anchorage Daily News, 24 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near skim



ski mask

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Skim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for skim


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on skim

Nglish: Translation of skim for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of skim for Arabic Speakers


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