\ 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 And since the new tax is levied in sales, rather than income, industries with thin profit margins will feel the pinch especially hard. oregonlive, "Oregon’s unique, billion-dollar business tax greeted with confusion, consternation," 19 Feb. 2020 The results of the September election were announced by the Independent Election Commission on Tuesday, which granted incumbent Ghani, 70, another five-year term by a razor-thin margin. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Ashraf Ghani declared winner of Afghan election after contentious five-month delay," 18 Feb. 2020 Des Moines residents' political donations nearly mirrored Iowa's razor-thin caucus result. USA Today, "Who big-city residents support, and what it might say about 2020 presidential election," 18 Feb. 2020 Lucky's struggles are a symptom of growing pressure on smaller grocery chains in an industry with wafer-thin margins, rising competition and consolidation from big chains. Nathaniel Meyersohn And Alicia Wallace, CNN, "How a beloved organic grocery chain collapsed," 7 Feb. 2020 With 97% of precincts reporting, there is a razor thin margin of state delegates separating Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders for the lead in Iowa. Adam Brewster, Musadiq Bidar, CBS News, "DNC chair Tom Perez urges recanvass of Iowa caucuses amid results delays," 6 Feb. 2020 Abrams is best known for becoming the first black woman nominated for governor by a major party, and losing, by a razor-thin margin, her 2018 race against Republican Brian Kemp. Allegra Kirkland, Teen Vogue, "Stacey Abrams Talks 2020, AOC, and the Future of the Democratic Party," 3 Feb. 2020 Sports bettors continue to watch the lines like hawks, waiting for an advantage to surface between what is anticipated a razor-thin margin between the 49ers and Chiefs. Ryan R. Bonini, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Latest Super Bowl Sunday 2020 odds, spread, point total," 31 Jan. 2020 But the other players would be foolish to equate that razor-thin result as a non-dominant performance. Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Wendell Holland on why he needs to 'chill' on Survivor: Winners at War," 24 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The boundary layer thins out, more water can evaporate faster and that means the loss of thermal energy from your skin’s surface. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "Ever wonder how plants handle winter weather like wind chill? The answer? It's about water," 31 Jan. 2020 Even with a beer gut and thinning hair line, McConaughey's charisma shines through the dullness of a drama that digs into a real 1990s gold scandal. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "The best and worst Matthew McConaughey movies, definitively ranked (including 'The Gentlemen')," 23 Jan. 2020 But thinning operations focus on the small stuff, greatly reducing the profit potential. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Why isn’t California using more prescribed burns to reduce fire risk?," 21 Jan. 2020 School in a village in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug was canceled when thinning sea ice caused an invasion of fifty-six polar bears. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's magazine, "Findings," 20 Jan. 2020 Arctic and Antarctic sea ice shrank to the second-smallest amount recorded since 1979 (sea ice grows in the fall and winter and thins out in the spring and summer). Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "2019 was the second warmest year on record—here’s what this means for our future," 17 Jan. 2020 The observations show us precisely where Greenland’s glaciers are thinning the most, and whether the unstable areas of West Antarctica — the regions that worry sea-level-rise experts the most — are moving into a phase of unstoppable collapse. Jon Gertner, Scientific American, "How a New Wave of Orbiting Sentinels Is Changing Climate Science," 6 Jan. 2020 Many Las Vegas chapels now offer a range of non-binding ceremonies to pad out thinning wedding schedules. The Economist, "Crying in the chapel The decline of Las Vegas weddings," 2 Jan. 2020 If that trend continues into 2020, some of those 500-plus biotech companies might need to look for other means of keeping the doors open, including mergers that thin the flock. Damian Garde, STAT, "3 trends in biotech to watch in 2020," 26 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb 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 Some of the nurses argued that patient care is suffering because the staff is stretched thin. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "Striking nurses close down two emergency rooms in Seattle," 28 Jan. 2020 And that, too, when HSBC is running thin on happy news. Andy Mukherjee | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "This Fintech Safari Could Be a Wild Ride," 27 Sep. 2019 And following a cut of 60 officers in the city budget, Morales said trust in the police would go down as officers are stretched thin across crucial neighborhoods. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales lauds reduction in crime, takes heat during community gathering," 22 Jan. 2020 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

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

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thins. Accessed 25 Feb. 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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