\ 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
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 combinationthin-cladthin-flowing

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Other Words from thin


thinly adverb
thinness \ ˈthin-​nəs How to pronounce thinness (audio) \ noun
thinnish \ ˈthi-​nish How to pronounce thinnish (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 Or that distillers can use solar power to create vodka out of thin air and water? Elin Mccoy, Bloomberg.com, "Boxed Wine and Vodka Made From CO2: The Green Future of Booze," 10 May 2020 Staffers are already stretched thin in facilities that sometimes have a checkered history of infection control measures. Anne Ryman, azcentral, "53 test positive for COVID-19 at Chandler nursing home; 4 residents have died," 1 May 2020 In low-income communities, rates of preexisting conditions are higher, the uninsured may delay or forgo care, and medical services, already stretched thin, may be unable to provide treatment. Jonathan J.b. Mijs, The Conversation, "5 lessons from the coronavirus about inequality in America," 27 Apr. 2020 The facilities and physicians already were stretched thin. Washington Post, "‘For black folks, it’s like a set up: Are you trying to kill us?’," 26 Apr. 2020 New York City’s hospitals and medical supplies are stretched thin, the type of stress on the healthcare system that medical experts fear the pandemic inflicting nationwide if it is not kept under control by strict, sustained social distancing. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Media lionize Democratic governors whose states have rampant coronavirus outbreaks," 23 Apr. 2020 Hospitals are having a difficult time servicing their existing ventilators, and biomedical technicians, who repair hospital equipment, are already stretched thin. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Hospitals Need to Fix Ventilators. Why Won't Manufacturers Let Them?," 16 Apr. 2020 But in the pandemic, health care workers are stretched thin and have less time to spend with individual patients. Eric Levenson, CNN, "When the ventilator comes off, the delirium comes out for many coronavirus survivors," 15 Apr. 2020 Mastromano, 67, knew the workers were stretched thin. NBC News, "New York governor says will bring together 'best minds' to assess how to safely reopen state," 11 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Professional soccer is in full swing, though the roaring crowds of earlier this month have thinned. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, "‘There Are No Viruses Here’: Leader of Belarus Scoffs at Lockdowns," 25 Apr. 2020 Professional soccer is in full swing, although the roaring crowds of earlier this month have thinned. Andrew E. Kramer, BostonGlobe.com, "‘There are no viruses here’: Leader of Belarus scoffs at lockdowns," 25 Apr. 2020 Global stocks posted gains Thursday as trading thinned out ahead of the long Easter holiday weekend, while oil markets were buoyed by optimism that major crude producers including Russia may agree to cut output. Chong Koh Ping, WSJ, "U.S. Stock Futures Waver, Oil Rallies," 9 Apr. 2020 The usually full tables are gone, and street parking is readily available as traffic has thinned out dramatically. Stephanie Elam, CNN, "In Los Angeles, friendly waves help fill the empty spaces of social distancing," 6 Apr. 2020 And that’s a scientific truism more than a lack of wherewithal, because as the atmosphere thins more and more approaching the Kármán line, the ways a balloon stays afloat are progressively disabled until there’s nothing at all holding it up. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "69-Year-Old Russian Daredevil Will Balloon Into the Stratosphere," 10 Mar. 2020 Now that the crowds have thinned out and the teams are out of the din of downtown, drivers are a little more responsive to fans who wish them good luck. Anchorage Daily News, "Here are the best places to watch the Iditarod ceremonial start in Anchorage," 7 Mar. 2020 The sauce works drizzled over ground chicken lettuce wraps, as a dip for Persian cucumbers, or thinned out to make a peanutty dressing for salad or rice noodles. Emily Schultz, Bon Appétit, "My Boyfriend Is in a Serious Relationship With This Curried Peanut Dip," 21 Feb. 2020 As the number of Carnival parades in Jefferson Parish thins out, most of those left hope the Family Gras celebration can boost their ranks. Greg Larose, nola.com, "What Mardi Gras parades are left in Metairie?," 19 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Health workers are stretched thin at the best of times, and the DRC has been battling Ebola, outbreaks of cholera and yellow fever—and now the coronavirus. Leslie Roberts, Scientific American, "Why Measles Deaths Are Surging—and Coronavirus Could Make it Worse," 8 Apr. 2020 Staff are stretched thin caring for so many critically ill patients, and some nurses are being asked to monitor up to 16 people at a time. Joshua Kaplan, ProPublica, "Rationing Protective Gear Means Checking on Coronavirus Patients Less Often. This Can Be Deadly.," 10 Apr. 2020 Multnomah County Circuit Judge Nan Waller, who presides over mental-health cases, says the hospital was stretched thin before the pandemic and the spread of the virus has only taxed the system further. oregonlive, "Coronavirus prompts Oregon State Hospital to restrict admissions; mentally ill defendants left waiting in jails," 9 Apr. 2020 Democrats argued many of these steps would still leave the state government stretched thin given the state's growth and the cuts of the last recession. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Questions hang over the budget, major bills as Arizona Legislature makes quick exit," 24 Mar. 2020 As the outbreak worsens, having already infected over 5,800 people across all 50 states, hospitals are increasingly at risk of reaching capacity and having staff stretched thin. Cassidy Morrison, Washington Examiner, "Trump administration will allow doctors to practice across state lines to address pandemic," 18 Mar. 2020 Relaunched as Shadow, the company secured contracts with state parties and other political campaigns but the staff was stretched thin, the person said. Alexa Corse, WSJ, "The Shoestring App Developer Behind the Iowa Caucus Debacle," 6 Feb. 2020 Gretchen Peters, who leads the Alliance to Counter Crime Online, a group critical of Section 230, said her small organization was spread thin. David Mccabe, New York Times, "IBM, Marriott and Mickey Mouse Take On Tech’s Favorite Law," 4 Feb. 2020 Agents are spread thin in some areas, but they have been handed additional responsibilities in processing migrants at the border. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "Border Patrol chief Carla Provost retires, new chief Rodney Scott has Arizona ties," 31 Jan. 2020

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

16 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thin. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for thin

How to pronounce thin (audio)

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on thin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thin

Spanish Central: Translation of thin

Nglish: Translation of thin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thin for Arabic Speakers

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