\ 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 The group organized its broad list by cuisine, so diners who are in the mood, say, for Chinese or Lao can skim the list for ideas. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 May 2021 Don’t try to skim the top of a frozen ice cream container and bend your tablespoon. Chris Hachey, BGR, 20 May 2021 The secret for me is the cut: even the brand’s shortest, most minimal offerings are just boxy enough to skim—not constrict—my hourglass shape and muscular thighs. The Editors, Outside Online, 3 May 2021 And this weekend, Schafer took things up a notch, seemingly snipping her peroxide lengths to skim her shoulders. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 3 May 2021 Rich, former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, says sometimes the disclosure is right there, detailing how your contact information is being used, but people skim over it. Cindy Krischer Goodman,, 15 Apr. 2021 With a slotted spoon or small sieve, skim away and discard any of the skins that have floated to the top. Beth Segal, cleveland, 11 Mar. 2021 First, channel messages should be short and easy to skim. Suzanne Oliver, WSJ, 8 Mar. 2021 In bearing witness to a year of pandemic and racist violence, Matejka’s line breaks deny any effort to skim past the pain. Adam Bradley, New York Times, 4 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While robotic processes in AR and FP&A skim the surface of automation, true autonomy is where finance can reap the most benefits. Rohit Gupta, Forbes, 25 May 2021 The pilot throttles down and the pontoons skim across the glassy water inside the bay. New York Times, 19 Apr. 2021 Devin Whatley, who studies journalism at SDSU, says a lot of college-age students simply skim-read. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Apr. 2021 Read the applicant's resume and do not just rely on a quick skim or algorithm. Expert Panel, Forbes, 16 Apr. 2021 But the moving image and spoken word are hard to parse and skim, which has limited their usefulness. Clive Thompson, Wired, 15 Apr. 2021 The fact the effect was concentrated in charter schools that previously enrolled low-income students at relatively low rates indicates that some ‘cream-skim’ high-achieving, wealthy students, Bruno suggested. Nick Morrison, Forbes, 9 Apr. 2021 Both pies are topped with tomato sauce and part-skim mozzarella cheese. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, 7 Apr. 2021 These permit a chopper pilot to see in the dark, spot targets normally hidden from view and skim over rough terrain at treetop level even at night and in bad weather. Sheldon M. Gallager, Popular Mechanics, 25 Mar. 2021

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

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Skim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 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

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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