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[dent] /dɛnt/
a hollow or depression in a surface, as from a blow.
a noticeable effect, especially of reduction:
to leave a dent in one's savings; a dent in one's pride.
verb (used with object)
to make a dent in or on; indent:
The impact dented the car's fender.
to have the effect of reducing or slightly injuring:
The caustic remark dented his ego.
verb (used without object)
to show dents; become indented:
Tin dents more easily than steel.
to sink in, making a dent:
Nails dent into metal.
make a dent, Informal. to cause a person to take heed; make an impression:
The doctor told him to stop smoking, but it didn't make a dent.
make a dent in, to show initial progress; pass an initial stage of (work, thought, solving a problem, etc.):
I haven't even made a dent in this pile of work.
Origin of dent1
1250-1300; Middle English dente, variant of dint
Related forms
undented, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for denting
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These rows may be made by denting the soil with the sharp edge of a stick or ruler.

  • They were sitting on the steps when he finished and his heel was denting the sod.

    In the Heart of a Fool William Allen White
  • He perceived that she with effort kept her dimples from denting in.

    Aurora the Magnificent Gertrude Hall
  • They pressed lovingly, denting the skin, but there was no bite in them.

    Jerry of the Islands Jack London
  • Change a single stream of denting and change it hurriedly, what does it express, it expresses nausea.

    Tender Buttons Gertrude Stein
  • These we made of the proper length by first denting them with sharp-edged stones and then snapping them off.

    With the Indians in the Rockies James Willard Schultz
  • He spread his legs, denting the Aubusson carpet with his boot-heels, and glanced askance at his wife.

    The Fighting Chance Robert W. Chambers
  • For five weeks afterwards the German attack beat against the British front, bending and denting but never breaking it.

    Fields of Victory Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • I am rather inclined to think that denting was done when I did my lone-hand portage at Rock Island.

    Down the Columbia Lewis R. Freeman
British Dictionary definitions for denting


a hollow or dip in a surface, as one made by pressure or a blow
an appreciable effect, esp of lessening: a dent in our resources
to impress or be impressed with a dent or dents
Word Origin
C13 (in the sense: a stroke, blow): variant of dint


a toothlike protuberance, esp the tooth of a sprocket or gearwheel
(textiles) the space between two wires in a loom through which a warp thread is drawn
Word Origin
C16: from French: tooth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for denting



late 14c., from dent (n.). Related: Dented; denting.



early 14c., "a strike or blow," dialectal variant of Middle English dint (q.v.); sense of "indentation" first recorded 1560s, apparently influenced by indent.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with denting


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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