\ ˈden(t)s How to pronounce dense (audio) \
denser; densest

Essential Meaning of dense

1 : having parts that are close together They cut a path through the dense jungle. dense undergrowth See More ExamplesThe book's pages were dense [=packed, filled] with helpful ideas. the cat's dense [=thick] coat of fur a dense tangle of wires heavy, dense bread a dense cluster of starsHide
2 : crowded with people That part of the city has a dense population of immigrants. A dense mass of spectators filled the courtroom.
3 informal : not smart : not able to understand things easily I'm sorry to be so dense [=slow-witted, stupid, dumb] this morning. In the movie, she plays his kind but somewhat dense aunt.

Full Definition of dense

1a : marked by compactness or crowding together of parts dense vegetation dense traffic
b chemistry : having a high mass (see mass entry 2 sense 1c) per unit volume (see volume entry 1 sense 2) Carbon dioxide is a dense gas. The cake was overly sweet and dense.
2a : slow to understand : stupid, thickheaded was too dense to get the joke
b : extreme dense ignorance
3 mathematics : having between any two elements at least one element The set of rational numbers is dense.
4 : demanding concentration to follow or comprehend dense prose
5 : having high or relatively high opacity (see opacity sense 2) a dense fog a dense photographic negative

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Other Words from dense

densely adverb
denseness \ ˈden(t)-​snəs How to pronounce dense (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for dense



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Choose the Right Synonym for dense

stupid, dull, dense, crass, dumb mean lacking in power to absorb ideas or impressions. stupid implies a slow-witted or dazed state of mind that may be either congenital or temporary. stupid students just keeping the seats warm stupid with drink dull suggests a slow or sluggish mind such as results from disease, depression, or shock. monotonous work that leaves the mind dull dense implies a thickheaded imperviousness to ideas. too dense to take a hint crass suggests a grossness of mind precluding discrimination or delicacy. a crass, materialistic people dumb applies to an exasperating obtuseness or lack of comprehension. too dumb to figure out what's going on

Examples of dense in a Sentence

They cut a path through the dense jungle. a dense tangle of wires a dense cluster of stars That part of the city has a dense population of immigrants. A dense mass of spectators filled the courtroom. In the movie, she plays his kind but somewhat dense aunt.
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Recent Examples on the Web There’s cottage pie baked in an oversized teacup, dense with peas, potatoes, ground meat and gravy. Amy Drew Thompson,, 23 Sep. 2021 The bridge hushed as the pilot wove a path through water dense with icebergs and their smaller relatives, bergy bits and growlers. Marguerite Holloway, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2021 Hough got donations from Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, former San Diego Councilmember Marti Emerald and Tom Mullaney, leader of a group called Uptown United that fights dense housing projects. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Aug. 2021 The tarot cards, dense with symbolism and meaning, give structure to Gonçalves’ guidance, and facilitate intimate conversations that turn the Clubhouse room into something between a psychiatrist’s couch and an oracle’s cave. Brian Contreras, Los Angeles Times, 1 July 2021 Lily also cautions that because lump charcoal is not as dense as briquettes, the burn time is much less. Tamara Gane, Southern Living, 4 June 2021 Making projects as dense as possible lowers the cost-per-unit, which makes the projects more competitive in securing tax credit financing. J.k. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 May 2021 Areas dense with office buildings remain well below the pre-pandemic norm, while trip counts are higher in beach communities and across a suburban swath. Scott Calvert, WSJ, 16 May 2021 In an area as dense as Gaza, Chupryna said, airstrikes run the risk of having secondary effects, hitting already weak infrastructure and leaving civilians without power or water. Washington Post, 14 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dense.' 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 dense

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for dense

Latin densus; akin to Greek dasys thick with hair or leaves

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Time Traveler for dense

Time Traveler

The first known use of dense was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for dense


\ ˈdens How to pronounce dense (audio) \
denser; densest

Kids Definition of dense

1 : having its parts crowded together : thick dense vegetation dense fog
2 : stupid sense 1 I'm not dense enough to believe this story.

Other Words from dense

densely adverb a densely populated region

Choose the Right Synonym for dense

dense, thick, and compact mean having parts that are gathered tightly together. dense is used of something in which the parts are very close together. They lost their way in the dense forest. thick is used of something that has many small parts that form a single mass. He has a thick head of hair. compact is used of something that has a close and firm gathering of parts, especially within a small area. The laptop has a compact design.

More from Merriam-Webster on dense

Nglish: Translation of dense for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dense for Arabic Speakers


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