\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The same goes for condensed smoke that’s trapped in a thin layer of air near the ground, compared to smoke that’s diffusing more widely in an open atmosphere. Matt Simon, Wired, "How Weird, Bouncy Cell Signals Can Help Track Wildfire Smoke," 5 May 2021 Outside, where a thin layer of snow had settled on car roofs, two white vans started their engines. Caroline Lester, Harper's Magazine, "The Lightning Farm," 27 Apr. 2021 Then spread a thin layer of compost or garden soil. Anne Marie Chaker, WSJ, "For Yardwork Newbies, a Checklist of Spring Basics," 27 Apr. 2021 When the material cooled, a thin layer of the solid catalyst metal oxide formed. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Use Laser Paintbrush to Craft Mini Version of van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’," 23 Apr. 2021 The style features a microfoam insole that adds a thin layer of cushion comfort for endless exploring. Joseph Deacetis, Forbes, "Mother’s Day Gift Guide: The Most Stylish Accessories," 19 Apr. 2021 Naver notes that Fold 2 did not support the S Pen because of flexibility issues with the digitizer that recognizes the stylus and the thin UTG layer. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "Galaxy Z Fold 3 might not come with a built-in S Pen stylus," 15 Apr. 2021 Turn the packet over again and roll the pin across the packet, further flattening the butter into a thin layer that fills the entire packet while forcing out any air pockets. The Salt Lake Tribune, "How to make stunning croissants at home," 9 Apr. 2021 Yet divided between 100 economies, those doses amount to only a thin layer of protection. Washington Post, "Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Many countries may not hit that target this year.," 8 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Demonstrators gathered in the afternoon and didn't thin out until late Wednesday night, reports CBS Columbus affiliate WBNS-TV. Brian Dakss, Victoria Albert, CBS News, "More bodycam video released of fatal shooting of teen girl in Ohio and protesters again hit the streets," 22 Apr. 2021 Shelters had to thin out and stop accepting new residents, which caused the number of tents in the Tenderloin to explode. Trisha Thadani, San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco taps a new homeless department chief as it struggles with unsheltered," 8 Apr. 2021 The heavy National Guard presence had begun to thin. New York Times, "Driver Rams Into Officers at Capitol, Killing One and Injuring Another," 2 Apr. 2021 During the pandemic, rental car companies were forced to sell vehicles and thin out their fleets when a lack of visitors left them with nowhere to park all of the unused cars. Jessica Poitevien, Travel + Leisure, "Rental Car Prices Skyrocket As Hawaii Sees Spike in Tourists — Some As High As $1,000 Per Day," 31 Mar. 2021 Ulta president Dave Kimbell will succeed Dillon, meaning her exit will thin the ranks of female Fortune 500 CEOs. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "Dear Pandemic: A braintrust of female scientists is answering your every COVID question," 12 Mar. 2021 Save the liquid to thin out the kashk, if necessary. Washington Post, "How to make your own kashk, a creamy, tangy staple of Iranian cuisine," 12 Mar. 2021 Every brewery should take a hard look at their portfolio with a critical eye and thin out the non-performers. Hudson Lindenberger, Forbes, "Industry Experts Offer Advice For Craft Brewers Looking To Succeed In A Crowded Marketplace," 11 Mar. 2021 Early- and late-ice anglers appreciate the peace of mind provided by floating ice fishing bibs, should thin ice lead to an unexpected swim in frigid water. Outdoor Life Commerce Team, Outdoor Life, "Best Ice Fishing Bibs: Stay Warm on the Hard Water," 25 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Virginia sheriffs are reporting being stretched thin after responding to psychiatric emergencies that require them to hold people and transport them for treatment. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Steven van Zandt, casino shots, dance fever: News from around our 50 states," 22 Apr. 2021 The Lakers were being stretched thin by the Utah Jazz offense, shooters all over the court while the team attacked the paint and quickly shot the ball back to the perimeter. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "Jazz hand Lakers worst loss of the season," 24 Feb. 2021 What used to be sufficient for browsing, streaming, and gaming is stretched thin by the demands for online classrooms and work—shared among the entire family at once. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Google Meet, Classroom changes will add muting, end meeting functions for kids," 18 Feb. 2021 The 10-day restrictions announced Tuesday, designed to limit students’ movement around campus, are taking a toll on students already stretched thin by the pandemic. Washington Post, "U-Va. officials blame widespread noncompliance of guidelines for recent surge in coronavirus cases," 18 Feb. 2021 Ruhle’s ever-present juggle between parenting her three kids and working her busy schedule has often left her feeling stretched thin. NBC News, "'Focus on the small wins': How NBCU's on-air women are finding gratitude during a holiday season like no other," 24 Nov. 2020 Search and rescue groups in other Western states, including California, Utah and Colorado, were also stretched thin over the summer. Jane C. Hu, Wired, "Wilderness Rescuers Brace for a Rough Covid-19 Winter," 14 Nov. 2020 The family recently moved and is stretched thin financially with the incidentals that crop up when purchasing a home, Oberst said. Rebekah L. Sanders, The Arizona Republic, "Their 5-year-old broke his arm, and they paid the bills. Then came another charge, for more than $2,000," 29 Oct. 2020 The Portland Police Bureau said that officers have been spread thin recently amid the budget cuts. Paul Best, Fox News, "Portland marijuana dispensaries targeted in surge of robberies," 6 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for thin

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on thin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thin

Nglish: Translation of thin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thin for Arabic Speakers

Comments on thin

What made you want to look up thin? 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!