stim·​ming | \ ˈsti-miŋ How to pronounce stimming (audio) \

Definition of stimming

: a self-stimulatory behavior that is marked by a repetitive action or movement of the body (such as repeatedly tapping on objects or the ears, snapping the fingers, blinking the eyes, rocking from side to side, or grunting) and is typically associated with certain conditions (such as autism spectrum disorder) Stimming is seen by many therapists as a protective response to less predictable environmental stimuli that some can be overly sensitive to.— Kayla Jane Jeffers When a person with autism engages in self-stimulatory behaviors such as rocking, pacing, aligning or spinning objects, or hand-flapping, people around him may be confused, offended, or even frightened. Also known as "stimming," these behaviors are often characterized by rigid, repetitive movements and vocal sounds.— Teka J. Harris Subtler forms of stimming such as tapping a pencil, biting one's nails or twirling one's hair are common in most people's behavior patterns.— Megan Sheet

Other Words from stimming

stim \ ˈstim How to pronounce stimming (audio) \ intransitive verb stimmed; stimming; stims
If you've ever tapped your fingers against a counter while you were waiting, congratulations, you've stimmed. Autistic people tend to stim more often and more intensely. Stimming helps us process the sensory input we're gathering, stay calm and grounded in an overwhelming universe, and express joy, distress, or whatever we might be feeling. — Julia Bascom

First Known Use of stimming

1983, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stimming

probably short for earlier self-stimming, from self-stim(ulation) + -ing entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stimming

Time Traveler for stimming

Time Traveler

The first known use of stimming was in 1983

See more words from the same year

Statistics for stimming

Cite this Entry

“Stimming.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Comments on stimming

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!