\ 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

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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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Derby Angels pitcher and hitting phenom Shohei Ohtani will be one of the favorites in the annual competition held this year in the thin air of Denver’s Coors Field, 5 p.m. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2021 The Shohei Ohtani Show at Coors Field starts with the All-Star Home Run Derby, with fans wondering how far the Angels’ two-way sensation and other sluggers can hit the ball in Denver’s thin air. Creg Stephenson |, al, 12 July 2021 Brennen Davis, the club’s top prospect, commanded the spotlight in Colorado’s thin air, slamming a pair of home runs that would have been long gone in any park, and his National League squad powered over the American League, 8-3. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 12 July 2021 Allen says crypto exchanges must walk a thin line between offering an easy user experience and fighting fraud. Jessica Mathews, Fortune, 7 July 2021 But executed excessively, aimless repetition can cross the thin line between effective protest and grandstanding annoyance. Clarence Page,, 6 July 2021 Biden didn’t pull the 70 percent number out of thin air. Washington Post, 2 July 2021 These rioters pay little heed to the thin line of police. New York Times, 30 June 2021 The thin air takes all the bite out of breaking balls, in particular. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 26 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Cities and other government agencies want everyone to thin and remove dead and high-risk vegetation. oregonlive, 28 June 2021 In one group of 11 mice, four had their intestines scrubbed to thin the mucosal lining and improve oxygen absorption. Nikk Ogasa, Science | AAAS, 14 May 2021 To apply, set the bottle in hot water for 10 or 15 minutes to heat and thin the oil. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 1 May 2021 But this year, CarmelFest returned with a full schedule of festivities on July 4 and 5, though organizers set up two music venues and two separate fireworks shows to thin out the crowds at each. Asha Prihar, The Indianapolis Star, 5 July 2021 The mayonnaise is mixed with a generous spoonful of mustard, some lemon juice to thin it, and enough warm water to make a dressing with a pouring consistency., 1 June 2021 Mix together 2 pounds of baking soda + about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water to create a very thick paste; thin it out as need be for easier spreading. Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2021 The 120-year-old drug, widely used to thin the blood of heart-disease patients, made no difference in mortality after about a month in a clinical trial that involved almost 15,000 volunteers. Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 June 2021 The crowd will thin out this week on board the International Space Station as the four passengers of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience will head back to Earth for a targeted splash down off the coast of Florida on Wednesday. Richard Tribou,, 26 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Of course, guests aren't the only ones feeling overwhelmed under the deluge of weddings this year; vendors, too - many of whom had to downsize their businesses during the pandemic - are finding their resources and personnel stretched thin. Ashely Fetters Washington Post, Star Tribune, 16 July 2021 The pork is thin-sliced, marinated and twice-fried to the most exquisite crispy, then bathed in a beautifully balanced, gently thickened sauce of sugar and vinegar. Amy Drew Thompson,, 3 June 2021 Whole Hog BBQ also serves one of the best steak sandwiches around — a ribeye brined in Rodney’s Sauce, smoked slow and low on the pit, and then sliced thin and topped with white American cheese, onions, lettuce and tomato. Bob Carlton |, al, 13 Jan. 2021 Root vegetables of all kinds sliced thin and roasted in this elegant casserole make quick work of humble veggies. Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2020 But in all other years, while competitors scratch out thin or no profits, Southwest usually earns more money, scores a bigger return on investment, and has a larger profit margin than any carrier in the world. Dan Reed, Forbes, 17 June 2021 But many reporters were spread thin, with multiple duties. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 2021 That leaves growers thin on their chief resource and inevitably with a smaller harvest. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 May 2021 The margin for error between Oregon and Arizona was razor thin all weekend and Sunday was no different. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 9 May 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for thin

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for thin

Last Updated

18 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Thin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for thin



English Language Learners Definition of thin

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having a small distance between the top and bottom or front and back surfaces : not thick
: not having a lot of extra flesh on the body : not fat
: not growing closely together : not growing in a large amount



English Language Learners Definition of thin (Entry 2 of 3)

: to become less crowded, close together, or full
: to make (a liquid) less thick by adding water or some other liquid to it
of a person's hair : to become less thick as more hairs fall out over time



English Language Learners Definition of thin (Entry 3 of 3)

: in a way that makes thin pieces, layers, etc.


\ 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


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