\ 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 Most restaurateurs, even before the health pandemic, operated on razor thin margins. Hallie Miller, baltimoresun.com, "Lexington Market reopens without some vendors as business suffers due to coronavirus," 3 Aug. 2020 Some council members raised concerns that the advertising tax could hurt small newspapers operating on thin margins. Washington Post, "D.C. Council raises gas and other taxes, rejects tax increase on wealthy, during first budget vote," 8 July 2020 While the overall percentage is small (1.3% of all votes), thin margins in Florida could be key in the fall. Rachel Glickhouse, ProPublica, "Electionland 2020: Florida Felons Case, Drive-Thru Voting, Voter Registration and More," 3 July 2020 Even before the pandemic, Minor League Baseball -- where teams long have operated on thin margins -- faced upheaval, including contraction of 42 teams. Mike Rodak | Mrodak@al.com, al, "Trash Pandas, other Alabama minor-league teams turn page to 2021," 30 June 2020 The base began with a little eyeshadow and a thin line of e.l.f. Hatti Rex, refinery29.com, "I Tried 5 Viral TikTok Beauty Hacks — & These Are The Results," 25 June 2020 Coronavirus has exposed athletic departments that operated on thin margins with no safety net. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Canzano: Time for the Pac-12 Conference to step out from behind the pandemic," 23 June 2020 The measure is important because many restaurants are on thin profit margins and the loss of tables could have a significant impact, Kelley said. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "Cleveland restaurants, bars can get permits to expand patios into sidewalks, streets to cope with coronavirus distancing challenges," 18 June 2020 Many restaurants operate on thin margins in normal times. Ben Brody, Bloomberg.com, "Endangered Restaurants Say $120 Billion Aid Would Pay for Itself," 14 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Many small businesses that received forgivable government loans have exhausted their funds while some larger companies are starting to thin their payrolls in preparation for a longer-than-expected downturn. David J. Lynch, Washington Post, "After the fastest recession in U.S. history, the economic recovery may be fizzling," 11 July 2020 The idea behind these seasons is to thin the population of local honkers, so typically bag limits are set between 5 and 15 geese per day, depending on the health of the resident population. Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life, "How to Hunt Ducks and Geese," 26 June 2020 Ohio, like many states, used emergency powers to try to thin out prison populations during the outbreak. Dara Lind, ProPublica, "The Prison Was Built to Hold 1,500 Inmates. It Had Over 2,000 Coronavirus Cases.," 18 June 2020 Those numbers could thin as the weeks progress and starting pitchers are more comfortable going deeper in games. Chandler Rome, ExpressNews.com, "Q&A: Tracing the path to baseball’s impasse and assessing what’s next," 14 June 2020 If that is not an option, add a little bit of water to the paste to slightly thin the consistency. Patricia S York, Southern Living, "Easy Substitutes for Crushed Tomatoes," 11 June 2020 Spread it on warm toast for spicy garlic bread or thin it out with more vinegar and olive oil to make a vinaigrette for a tomato salad when tomatoes show up at the market in the summer. Christian Reynoso, SFChronicle.com, "California squid is worth the work for this pasta recipe with basil and chiles," 5 June 2020 Many local leaders have released some prisoners early in an attempt to thin out the density of incarcerated people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Curfews and Arrests Will Inflame the Pandemic," 5 June 2020 The crowd, possibly in the thousands earlier in the evening, began to thin out a bit as New York City's curfew — 8 p.m. ET — neared. NBC News, "Peaceful crowd gathers in Seattle after night of clashes," 4 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb And the situation has only gotten worse during the months-long coronavirus pandemic, as more employees switched to working from home, and medical facilities were cash-strapped and stretched thin because of COVID-19. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, "A game of 'cat and mouse': Hacking attacks on hospitals for patient data increase during coronavirus pandemic," 13 July 2020 After being discharged from the hospital, Broussard was invited to the Élysée Palace, where the French president, a busy, thin-faced man, acclaimed him as a war hero. New York Times, "Leila Slimani," 8 July 2020 Healthcare workers, doctors’ rooms, and equipment inventories were stretched thin even before the pandemic took hold, with patients waiting weeks or months to get a doctor’s appointment or book a surgery. Mohammed Saeed, Quartz, "Why AI is the next way patients will choose their doctors," 26 June 2020 Economies already stretched thin before the virus lie on the precipice of ruin. BostonGlobe.com, "Virus gains steam across Latin America," 24 June 2020 Today, fallout from the pandemic makes the easy money of a few years ago an unbearable burden as the outbreak threatens to overwhelm hospitals already stretched thin by illnesses such as malaria and tuberculosis. Alonso Soto, Bloomberg.com, "The Ticking Debt Bomb in Africa Threatens a Global Explosion," 17 June 2020 With state resources stretched thin by the protests and the coronavirus pandemic, officials suggest using this time to get prepared for the season ahead. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "Tropical Storm Cristobal takes aim at U.S. Gulf Coast," 3 June 2020 Nearly every state is stretched thin on emergency resources needed to fight the pandemic. NBC News, "NYC sees largest spike in deaths since outbreak started," 6 Apr. 2020 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

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

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thin. Accessed 10 Aug. 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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