\ 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 Osten is thin at 215 pounds and will need to gain weight to be effective in the Pac-12. Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral, "ASU basketball adds post depth with 6-9 junior college forward," 21 May 2020 Where the clouds are thin, the heat shines through. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "You’ve Never Seen Jupiter Like This Before," 14 May 2020 Profit margins were already thin in the industry before the processing plants slowed production and crushed the value of cattle. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Why millions of pigs are being euthanized," 14 May 2020 Authorities said those areas will remain open on weekdays, when crowds are thinner. Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times, "What’s open and closed this busy weekend: Beaches, parks and trails in Southern California," 8 May 2020 While the Rockaways have surged in popularity in recent years, as locals and visitors alike flock to the area’s Atlantic Ocean beaches, accommodation options have been thin. Paul Brady, Travel + Leisure, "This New Hotel Coming to the Rockaways Has NYC Cheering for Beach Days Ahead," 30 Apr. 2020 Dialysis therapies require specialized skills and are particularly labor intensive in a crisis where staffing is thin. Jake Pearson, ProPublica, "Without Federal Help, New York Doctors Had to Ask Medical Supply Execs for Dialysis Supplies," 17 Apr. 2020 If one fabric layer is too thin, add additional layers for protection. Karen L. Labat, The Conversation, "Making masks at home – what you need to know about how to reduce the transmission of coronavirus," 16 Apr. 2020 The bigger depth problem is how thin all of the characters are. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Brews Brothers': TV Review," 9 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And the idea that thinning hair is simply a symptom of menopause is a myth: The average age for women dealing with thinning hair is 25 to 35. Ning Chao, Marie Claire, "How to Deal With Thinning Hair," 1 May 2020 Semenko and other gun shop owners blamed the increase, especially for first-time gun buyers, on fears that police agency ranks might be thinned by coronavirus infections as well as worries that gun shops might shut down along with other businesses. Jessica Myers, azcentral, "Gun sales rose to record levels in March, as COVID-19 fears climbed," 14 Apr. 2020 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 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

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thin. Accessed 31 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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