\ 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 Kilauea’s summit caldera may have already been thin and faulted and thus weak, Anderson adds. Stephanie Pappas, Scientific American, "A Tiny Leak Led to a Massive, Unexpected Collapse at Kilauea Volcano," 5 Dec. 2019 Plus, a single-edge razor blade, which is very thin and sharp, works particularly well for scoring the duck skin and fat. Bon Appétit, Bon Appetit, "30 Christmas & Holiday Roast Recipes You Need," 4 Dec. 2019 Intel’s redesign of the thin-and-light notebook, known as Project Athena, may have struggled to be more than a name to most consumers. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Project Athena notebooks perform better on battery, and Intel has the numbers to prove it," 4 Dec. 2019 When cookies have spread thin and are bubbling, remove from oven. Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Angel Trumpets," 3 Dec. 2019 Amazon operates on razor-thin margins, and actually loses money on its speedy delivery. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "Alexa, can't you stop all those ads on Amazon?," 2 Dec. 2019 Merchant input is especially critical given that many of Cleveland’s small retailers operate on a razor thin profit margin. Phillip Morris, cleveland, "America must stop being a Turkey and suffocating itself with cheap plastic bags: Phillip Morris," 27 Nov. 2019 In addition, Riggs said businesses’ already thin profit margins could suffer by the mandatory wage increase. Conrad Swanson, The Denver Post, "Denver City Council unanimously approves minimum wage hike starting Jan. 1," 25 Nov. 2019 That put further pressure on farms operating on thin margins. NBC News, "Maybe you should host Thanksgiving this year? Turkey prices are the lowest since 2010.," 21 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Morales expects about 100 officers to get promoted next spring, thinning the patrol ranks. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee's police chief wants another term. Here's what to know about his record, and what happens next.," 9 Dec. 2019 While both the Arctic and Antarctic are experiencing rising temperatures, thinning glaciers, disturbed ecosystems, and other alarming shifts as heat-trapping fossil fuel emissions build up, changes are sweeping the northern region far faster. Cheryl Katz, National Geographic, "Warming at the poles will soon be felt globally in rising seas, extreme weather," 4 Dec. 2019 With the Warriors thinned by injuries, Paschall has emerged as the face of their mini rebuild. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "Warriors at the quarter: Eric Paschall is MVP, but not biggest surprise," 2 Dec. 2019 The often thinning plants allow the lichens more exposure to light and water, plus nutrients from decomposing plant portions. Tom Maccubbin, orlandosentinel.com, "Start foxglove seeds now," 22 Nov. 2019 What else is shifting in my brain, what parts are thinning and what parts are puffing up, and how might this be affecting my memory? Max, Longreads, "Hello, Forgetfulness; Hello, Mother," 4 Oct. 2019 The large-scale paintings in the exhibition were formed through the accrual and erosion of layers of thinned oil paint. courant.com, "Community News For The Windham Edition," 6 Sep. 2019 As unconfirmed reports of imminent police action spread, a large number of protesters decided to march on a road outside the airport, and crowds in the airport thinned significantly. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Hong Kong protesters effectively forced the airport to shut down," 12 Aug. 2019 Or, thin it even more and add a splash of cream and behold, cream of turkey soup. James P. Dewan, chicagotribune.com, "10 things to make with your prized Thanksgiving leftovers," 21 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb In addition to keeping the Pixelbook Go thin, a fanless design also minimizes heat and noise. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Pixelbook Go review: A cheaper Pixelbook does not come without compromises," 25 Oct. 2019 But with just seven full-time staffers and a budget that allowed for spending $1.7 million in 2017 (compared with, say, Planned Parenthood’s $318 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2017), the group is stretched thin. Abigail Abrams, Time, "'We Are Grabbing Our Own Microphones': How Advocates of Reproductive Justice Stepped Into the Spotlight," 21 Nov. 2019 The departures were all replaced to maintain City's ludicrous squad depth, which also means Pep can't claim his team are being spread thin. SI.com, "Why Pep Guardiola's Claim That Man City 'Are Still Not Ready' to Win Champions League Is Laughable," 24 Oct. 2019 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

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

13 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Thin.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thinnish. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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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

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delight or enjoyment

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