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

Examples of stimming in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For example, research has found that stimming alleviates anxiety and energy. Lauren Rowello, Health, 3 Mar. 2023 Some evidence suggests that stimming is common in learning environments. Lauren Rowello, Health, 3 Mar. 2023 Each hand had three smooth, gold half-orbs on the ring finger made of plastic and encased in gel — omitting a xylophone-like sound when touched in a quick up-down motion — to soothe her stimming. Martine Thompson, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stimming.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1983, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of stimming was in 1983

Dictionary Entries Near stimming

Cite this Entry

“Stimming.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

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