\ 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 thinness (audio) \ noun
thinnish \ ˈthi-​nish How to pronounce thinnish (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for thin

Synonyms: Adjective

bony (also boney), fatless, lean, lithe, skinny, slender, slim, spare, svelte

Synonyms: Verb

adulterate, cut, dilute, extend, lace, sophisticate, water down, weaken

Antonyms: Adjective

chubby, corpulent, fat, gross, obese, overweight, plump, portly, rotund, tubby

Antonyms: Verb

enrich, fortify, richen, strengthen

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


a thin coating of dust pizza with a thin crust a thin slice of ham a thin stand of trees


He added a little more water to thin the gravy. The haze thinned in the late afternoon. His face has been thinned by illness.


She sliced the cheese thin.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The dog was thin and weak, dirty, had matted fur and was missing hair on more than half of its body., "Oregon Humane Society offering $500 reward for information on abandoned Pomeranian," 7 July 2019 But why not visit in the summer, when the crowds are thinner and there’s plenty of other things to do in the morning, before the temps start to soar? Jeanette Marantos,, "Four Hours: A beat-the-heat tour of historic Riverside and the Mission Inn," 6 July 2019 While the rotation is thin and inconsistent, the bullpen is worse. Julian Mcwilliams,, "Is the Red Sox’ recent offensive explosion for real?," 6 July 2019 Assuming Waston starts for Cincinnati at center back, the club is still thin on the backline and will need to plug holes all night to avoid another lopsided scoreline. Pat Brennan,, "FC Cincinnati versus Houston Dynamo: Keys to the game and prediction," 4 July 2019 Here, the team found a thin layer of vanadium oxide, but struggled to work out how this could have formed, for the statue’s bronze shows no trace of vanadium. The Economist, "Buried metal artefacts gather stories on their surfaces," 4 July 2019 Turquoise water stretches into the distance, stuffed full of blue tangs and schools of yellowtail snapper that flounder away from our ship and conceal themselves beneath thin layers of sea foam. David Canfield,, "First look: Next year's biggest YA fantasy could be All the Stars and Teeth," 2 July 2019 The threads come in varying degrees of thickness at Indian grocers; the variety called nylon is thin and delicate. Nik Sharma,, "Recipe: Puffed Rice Salad With Date Syrup & Lime Dressing," 1 July 2019 But his opening statement sounded tonally thin and emotionally wan, while his breathless treatment of the second movement scherzo offered more velocity than insight. Howard Reich,, "Grant Park Orchestra review: A visually daunting season-opener with Mayor Lori Lightfoot," 13 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

When Osborn finally decided to thin his herd a bit in 2009 through a sale of about 500 pieces at Dallas Auction Gallery, it was covered by The New York Times. Christopher Wynn, Dallas News, "Derrill Osborn, former Neiman Marcus fashion executive, collector and Dallas style icon, dies at 76," 3 July 2019 In Santorini at least, this appears to have thinned out the pernicious traffic that contributes little to the island's economy. Leonid Bershidsky,, "Europe braces for another summer of overtourism," 1 July 2019 The roster was long expected to thin out this summer due to the ongoing CONCACAF Gold Cup. Pat Brennan,, "How Tommy McCabe shined on one FC Cincinnati's darkest days," 30 June 2019 After Zucker, the tradeable assets on the Wild roster start to thin out, especially considering Fenton doesn’t appear willing to trade someone like Jared Spurgeon. Dane Mizutani, Twin Cities, "Dane Mizutani: Wild GM Paul Fenton needs to nail the rest of the offseason," 23 June 2019 The rule is to remove up to one-third of the older limbs to thin out a bigger plant or to shape one. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "How to make your lilacs bloom like crazy next summer," 20 June 2019 Mr Stewart may even fall foul of the party’s new rule, designed to thin out a field that at one point reached 13, which demands that candidates must have at least eight MPs backing them by 5pm on June 10th. The Economist, "Rory Stewart, odd man out," 7 June 2019 My Body’s War on Femininity My naturally fine hair started to thin in my 20s—an all over fallout unlike the receding hairline many men deal with. Anna Lee Beyer, Glamour, "Losing My Hair Taught Me to Redefine My Standards of Beauty," 22 May 2019 Airlines had to thin out schedules to lessen the load on air-traffic controllers. Scott Mccartney, WSJ, "What Fliers Should Keep in Mind as the Shutdown Pauses," 25 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Reports from friends whose homes are in danger tell me that Alaska’s many amazing firefighters are innovative and persistent as always, yet spread thin across the state. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, "As Alaska burns, acts of caring — for yourself, and for others — might save your sanity," 11 July 2019 In four years, Galley Group has only had one other vendor call it quits before the year was up, but that, Mantica said, was because the vendor was stretched thin from his other already existing locations. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit's Fort Street Galley restaurant loses 2 vendors, promises change," 25 June 2019 After the shooting and then with the Hill Fire, resources were spread thin, so the firefighters ran medical calls well into the evening. Stephanie Elam, CNN, "From a mass shooting to a major wildfire, two California firefighters recount a harrowing 24 hours," 14 June 2019 As Customs and Border Protection is spread thin, there’s an increased likelihood of drugs, guns, criminals and contraband getting through. Jillian Kay Melchior, WSJ, "Is There a Crisis at the Border?," 5 Nov. 2018 Resources at many university counseling centers are stretched thin, forcing students to wait weeks for an appointment. Aneri Pattani,, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 12 July 2018 Resources at many university counseling centers are stretched thin, forcing students to wait weeks for an appointment. Aneri Pattani,, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 12 July 2018 Resources at many university counseling centers are stretched thin, forcing students to wait weeks for an appointment. Aneri Pattani,, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 12 July 2018 Resources at many university counseling centers are stretched thin, forcing students to wait weeks for an appointment. Aneri Pattani,, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 12 July 2018

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

Statistics for thin

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thin

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

See more words from the same century

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thin

Spanish Central: Translation of 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).


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!