\ ˈthin How to pronounce thin (audio) \
thinner; thinnest

Definition of thin

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : having little extent from one surface to its opposite thin paper
b : measuring little in cross section or diameter thin rope
2 : not dense in arrangement or distribution thin hair
3 : not well fleshed : lean
4a : more fluid or rarefied than normal thin air
b : having less than the usual number : scanty thin attendance
c : few in number : scarce
d : scantily supplied
e : characterized by a paucity of bids or offerings a thin market
5a : lacking substance or strength thin broth a thin plot
b of a soil : infertile, poor
6a : flimsy, unconvincing a thin disguise
b : disappointingly poor or hard had a thin time of it
7 : somewhat feeble, shrill, and lacking in resonance a thin voice
8 : lacking in intensity or brilliance thin light
9 : lacking sufficient photographic density or contrast
thin on the ground


thinned; thinning

Definition of thin (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to make thin or thinner:
a : to reduce in thickness or depth : attenuate
b : to make less dense or viscous
c : dilute, weaken
d : to cause to lose flesh thinned by weeks of privation
e : to reduce in number or bulk

intransitive verb

1 : to become thin or thinner
2 : to become weak


thinner; thinnest

Definition of thin (Entry 3 of 3)

: in a thin manner : thinly used especially in combination thin-cladthin-flowing

Other Words from thin


thinly adverb
thinness \ ˈthin-​nəs How to pronounce thin (audio) \ noun
thinnish \ ˈthi-​nish How to pronounce thin (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for thin

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for thin


thin, slender, slim, slight, tenuous mean not thick, broad, abundant, or dense. thin implies comparatively little extension between surfaces or in diameter, or it may imply lack of substance, richness, or abundance. thin wire a thin soup slender implies leanness or spareness often with grace and good proportion. the slender legs of a Sheraton chair slim applies to slenderness that suggests fragility or scantiness. a slim volume of poetry a slim chance slight implies smallness as well as thinness. a slight build tenuous implies extreme thinness, sheerness, or lack of substance and firmness. a tenuous thread

Examples of thin in a Sentence

Adjective a thin coating of dust pizza with a thin crust a thin slice of ham a thin stand of trees Verb He added a little more water to thin the gravy. The haze thinned in the late afternoon. His face has been thinned by illness. Adverb She sliced the cheese thin. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But losing the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year for a chunk of the season, from an otherwise thin unit, is still a significant blow. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 14 Sep. 2022 During a colonoscopy, a doctor (typically a gastroenterologist) inserts a thin, flexible tube inside the rectum to check the colon for polyps. Maggie O'neill, SELF, 14 Sep. 2022 Chris Papas distributed about 50 thin blue line flags to people waiting for the procession to pass through the area. Jozsef Papp, ajc, 14 Sep. 2022 When his legal team argued last week there was little due diligence would have revealed on fake users given Zatko’s claims that Twitter would bury any damaging information, the Court of Chancery in Delaware indicated Musk’s case rests on thin ice. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 14 Sep. 2022 Of course, thin positioning among institutional investors also means the market is susceptible to rapid bouncebacks. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, 13 Sep. 2022 The larger gathering Tuesday came exactly eight weeks before the midterm elections that will determine whether Democrats can hold onto their thin congressional majorities. Eli Stokolsstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2022 The Catholic Church continues to walk a thin line attempting to reclaim authority from the CCP without further endangering its members within Chinese borders. Fox News, 13 Sep. 2022 Western beauty ideals include being tall and thin, having long silky hair, light skin, a small nose, and high cheekbones. Náosha Gregg, Glamour, 10 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb If your snot is like molasses, drink up to help thin it out. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, 6 Sep. 2022 Olive oil and vinegar help thin the creamy dressing, and garnish it all with your favorite fresh herbs to add even more flavor. Laura Denby, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Aug. 2022 Age can also play a role: As estrogen levels decrease between childbearing age and menopause, our hair may thin out. Mona Gohara, Good Housekeeping, 11 Aug. 2022 There are, of course, avenues to thin the payroll, including potentially offloading what would be Duncan Robinson’s $18.2 million 2023-24 salary. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 12 July 2022 Blending clear polish with your favorite lacquer helps to thin it out for a softer look to strong pigments. Nicol Natale,, 19 July 2022 Sze likes to thin it out with soy sauce, black vinegar, and water for a dipping sauce with a balanced bite. Elyse Inamine, Bon Appétit, 19 Feb. 2022 If the fondue begins to thicken too much over time, add a small splash of wine to thin it. Hannah Selinger, Outside Online, 27 Jan. 2022 Check again in a few months because fabric can thin out or fade over time. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, 7 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb As a result, firefighters must take frequent breaks, which could leave the ranks stretched thin if several dangerous fires break out at once., 6 Sep. 2022 With resources already stretched thin, kids with fewer needs are getting the beds. Kaitlin Durbin, cleveland, 4 Sep. 2022 So this past year, the company launched a one-on-one coaching network for female attorneys stretched thin with work and family commitments. Diane Herbst, Peoplemag, 31 Aug. 2022 Abloh’s enthusiasm for design eclipsed other creatives and often left him spread thin. Roxanne Robinson, Forbes, 2 June 2022 The nation’s second-largest school system, Los Angeles Unified, has had the second-largest police force in the country, but it was always spread thin on a school-by-school basis. Howard Blumestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2022 Families, including Mecattaf’s, are spread thin all over the world. Isabelle Mecattaf, The New Yorker, 13 May 2022 The backline was stretched thin with Matarrita out, and a rotating cast of players have filled in at his left back (and sometimes left wing back) position. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 19 Aug. 2022 Polep and her husband care for their four children and her adult brother, who has multiple sclerosis, so their budget was already stretched thin before prices started rising. Kaitlyn Koterbski, Fortune, 5 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of thin


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for thin


Middle English thin, thinne, going back to Old English þynne, going back to Germanic *þunnu- (assimilated to the -ja-stem adjectives in West Germanic, whence Middle Dutch dunne "thin," Old High German dunni, against Old Norse þunnr), generalized from a paradigm *þenu-, *þunw-a-, going back to Indo-European *ténh2u-, *tn̥h2u̯ó-, whence also, from with a base *tenh2u-, *tn̥h2u- with varying ablaut and suffixation, Old Irish tanae "thin, slender," Old Welsh teneu, Middle Breton tanau, Latin tenuis "fine-drawn, thin, narrow, slight," Greek tanu- "extended, long," tanaós "outstretched, long," Old Church Slavic tĭnŭkŭ "fine, delicate," Russian tónkij "thin," Croatian & Serbian tȁnak, Lithuanian tę́vas, Sanskrit tanúḥ, tánukaḥ "thin, small"

Note: Indo-European *tenh2u-, *tn̥h2u- is usually taken to be a derivative of the verbal base *ten- "stretch, extend"; see tenant entry 1.


Middle English thinnen, going back to Old English þynnian, derivative of þynne thin entry 1


Middle English thynne, derivative of thin, thinne thin entry 1

Learn More About thin

Time Traveler for thin

Time Traveler

The first known use of thin was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near thin



thin-boiling starch

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for thin

Last Updated

16 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Thin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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

More Definitions for thin


\ ˈthin How to pronounce thin (audio) \
thinner; thinnest

Kids Definition of thin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having little body fat
2 : having little size from one surface to its opposite : not thick a thin board
3 : having the parts not close together thin hair
4 : flowing very easily a thin soup
5 : having less than the usual number Attendance was thin.
6 : not very convincing a thin excuse
7 : somewhat weak or high a thin voice
8 : having less oxygen than normal thin air

Other Words from thin

thinly adverb
thinness noun


thinned; thinning

Kids Definition of thin (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make or become smaller in thickness or number The crowd was beginning to thin.

More from Merriam-Webster on thin

Nglish: Translation of thin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thin for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!