\ 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 The Raiders were also thin at defensive end after placing Arden Key on IR last week. Matt Kawahara, SFChronicle.com, "Raiders lose Karl Joseph to IR; sign D.J. Swearinger, Dion Jordan," 9 Nov. 2019 To rip the Band-Aid off quickly, the book (by Katori Hall, with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins) is so thin it’s see-through. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: The ‘Tina’ Musical Is One Inch Deep, Mountain High," 7 Nov. 2019 Despite picking up four wins so far, the Eagles' squad is still too thin to deal with injuries and maintain the intensity needed to pick up the results to secure a place in Europe. SI.com, "5 Ways This Crystal Palace Season Could Turn Out (and How They'd Happen)," 6 Nov. 2019 Auburn’s offense has been at its most effective when Nix is utilized in the run game but following Joey Gatewood’s decision to leave the team this week and seek a transfer opportunity, the Tigers are thin at quarterback behind Nix. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Tiger Buzz: Breaking down No. 11 Auburn vs. Ole Miss," 2 Nov. 2019 Add boiling water to batter and mix well to combine (batter will be thin). The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Chocolate Gingerbread Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream," 1 Nov. 2019 Foam mats are thinner than self-inflating and air pads. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, "Camp More Comfortably with the Best Sleeping Pads," 1 Nov. 2019 One of the deepest positions on their roster two weeks ago, the Detroit Lions are suddenly super thin at the safety position. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions injury report vs. Raiders: Tracy Walker won't play," 1 Nov. 2019 The Hurricanes are thin at linebacker because backups Bradley Jennings Jr. and Waynmon Steed have been out with injuries, while freshman Avery Huff hasn’t played this season due to academics. David Furones, sun-sentinel.com, "UM’s Zach McCloud, using last game to retain redshirt, to start for Michael Pinckney at Pitt," 23 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Spoon each thinned color into separate piping bags. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Decorated Cookies," 12 Sep. 2019 If lefties were somehow weaker, Christman thought, evolution would've thinned their numbers by now. Sam Fortier, courant.com, "Why aren’t there any left-handed quarterbacks in the NFL?," 15 Aug. 2019 Twist chocolate sandwich cookie thins in half; scrape off and discard the cream. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Cookie Bat Cupcakes," 2 Aug. 2019 The practice fields were bursting with activity and players on Wednesday, especially when compared to last week when the club's ranks had thinned to an all-time low. Pat Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "FC Cincinnati bet big on the MLS SuperDraft. So far, it's been a smart gamble.," 3 July 2019 Police handling of the rest of the three-month occupation was far more measured, and protesters were not fully cleared until time and fatigue had thinned their ranks. James Griffiths, CNN, "How did one of the safest cities in the world descend into violence?," 13 June 2019 The farm system, thinned by the trades Dombrowski made, is one of the leanest in baseball. Tom Verducci, SI.com, "Why the Red Sox Fired Dave Dombrowski After He Delivered a Championship," 9 Sep. 2019 But at the one-hour mark, the Expo Center crowd began to thin out. CBS News, "Trump rallies supporters in North Carolina ahead of special election," 9 Sep. 2019 State officials and marijuana industry sources said black-market dealers appear to be using new substances to thin out THC oil, which is thick, odorless and colorless. Author: Lena H. Sun, Laurie Mcginley, Anchorage Daily News, "As vaping-related lung illnesses spike, investigators eye contaminants," 30 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Still, the Longhorns are paper thin at a position that was expected to be rock solid. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Texas’ Jordan Whittington last RB standing as injuries mount," 23 Aug. 2019 The volume of new series being produced means that talent and resources are spread thin, and also that networks and streaming platforms have less to lose from commercial flops. Adam Wilson, Harper's magazine, "Good Bad Bad Good," 16 Sep. 2019 The Ravens lost Smith and Terrell Suggs in free agency, leaving their defense notably thin on the edges. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Nothing comes easily for an NFL rookie, and Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson wouldn’t have it any other way," 13 Aug. 2019 Rob Thomas was stretched thin, between the final season of iZombie and the new season of Veronica Mars. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: iZombie sets up strong fifth season, then whiffs the series finale," 5 Aug. 2019 But Orange County shows no signs of slowing its growth which can be a problem for the county’s more rural areas where firefighter coverage is stretched thin. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, "Orange County fire chief’s first two months: putting out fires and preparing for more," 7 Aug. 2019 While the likes of Facebook and Amazon have nearly unlimited budgets for litigation and lobbying, the agency is stretched thin. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "How Facebook’s $5 Billion Fine Should Be Spent," 20 July 2019 Police officials said their force had been spread thin by a protest march that took place earlier that day in a different part of Hong Kong. Austin Ramzy, BostonGlobe.com, "Hong Kong police ban a march to protest mob violence," 25 July 2019 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

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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Statistics for thin

Last Updated

15 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for thin

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

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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

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).


something of little or no value

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