\ 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
c : dilute, weaken
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 combination thin-cladthin-flowing

Other Words from thin


thinly adverb
thinness \ ˈthin-​nəs How to pronounce thin (audio) \ noun
thinnish \ ˈthi-​nish How to pronounce thin (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Use a pastry brush or your finger to paint a thin layer of egg onto the interior rim of each biscuit. Bon Appétit, 17 May 2022 It is made of cotton throughout, with a thin layer of waterproof material to block moisture. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, 17 May 2022 Meteorologists have found that this is most likely to occur when three conditions are met: the surface of the lake is frozen with a thin, clear layer of ice and no snow; the air temperature is below 5 degrees; and there’s no wind. Kathleen Rellihan, Outside Online, 14 May 2022 Gently pat your face dry after shaving and rinsing, then apply a thin layer of aftershave to your face and neck to soothe and nourish. The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 May 2022 Dispersant gets between the water and the ultra-thin layer of oil. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 12 May 2022 On a spring day of fitfully alternating clouds and sunshine, tattered red-and-white police tape marked off the shallow depression into which the body had been dumped and covered with a thin layer of dirt. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2022 Spread the granola mixture in a thin even layer on the prepared pan. Washington Post, 3 May 2022 The report also concluded that armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was spread too thin. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Researchers say California must do more to clear vegetation and thin out its forests after a century of aggressive fire suppression. Los Angeles Times, 3 Mar. 2022 Many people’s hymens get worn down and thin out over time from participating in physical activities like biking, horseback riding, gymnastics, and even masturbating, Dr. Rosser notes. SELF, 25 Feb. 2022 Ultimately, the Magic will be affected by the teams that will pick ahead of them and thin out the pool of top players. Roy Parry,, 23 June 2021 The Reyes Peak Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project, first proposed in 2020, would thin and trim 755 acres of forestland that the Forest Service says would alleviate firefighting risks. Christian Martinezstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2022 Freshness matters, since egg whites thin out as an egg ages, making poaching and frying harder. San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Feb. 2022 Freshness matters, since egg whites thin out as an egg ages, making poaching and frying harder. Mark Kennedy,, 17 Feb. 2022 At the same time do thin out crisscrossing branches among the limbs and unwanted shoots from the base of plants kept as tree or shrub forms. Tom Maccubbin,, 12 Feb. 2022 The big worry is that the virus could thin port crews in China as authorities try to maintain their hard zero-covid line in the face of the fiercely infectious variant. David J. Lynch, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb When baked up thin in a sheet pan, sponge cake can be rolled with fillings, as in the Christmas classic, Buche de Noel. Charlyne Mattox, Country Living, 21 Apr. 2022 In addition to all the impacts on those who depend on water from glaciers, the current rate of melt would also make expeditions on Mount Everest more challenging, as snow and ice cover thin further over coming decades. Angela Dewan, CNN, 3 Feb. 2022 But moving around the country while working normal hours wore thin after a few months. Chris Moody, The New Republic, 30 Mar. 2021 So much depends on Jackson’s performance, and the Ravens don’t want his line of protection stretched so thin again. Childs Walker,, 14 Jan. 2022 Both union presidents said the departures have left their departments stretched thin. San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Mar. 2022 But with pharmacy workers already stretched thin, databases of available drugs are not always up to date. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022 During the Depression, a cup of coffee and a slice of pie cost just a few nickels at Horn & Hardart, providing sustenance and pleasure for city dwellers stretched thin. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 18 Feb. 2022 Time demands are playing a significant role in why educators like Hirsch feel stretched thin. Arthur Jones Ii, CBS News, 21 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of thin was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near thin



thin-boiling starch

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Thin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for thin


\ 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on thin

Nglish: Translation of thin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thin for Arabic Speakers


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