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[dwin-dl] /ˈdwɪn dl/
verb (used without object), dwindled, dwindling.
to become smaller and smaller; shrink; waste away:
His vast fortune has dwindled away.
to fall away, as in quality; degenerate.
verb (used with object), dwindled, dwindling.
to make smaller and smaller; cause to shrink:
Failing health dwindles ambition.
Origin of dwindle
1590-1600; dwine (now dial.) to waste away (Middle English; Old English dwīnan; cognate with Middle Dutch dwīnen to languish, Old Norse dvīna to pine away) + -le
Related forms
undwindling, adjective
1. diminish, decline, lessen, wane. 3. lessen.
1. increase. 3. magnify.
Synonym Study
1. See decrease. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dwindle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Somehow her parts seemed always to dwindle this way in retrospect.

    Audrey Craven May Sinclair
  • Was that not less dishonourable than to bid him remain and dwindle as she looked at him?

    Love and Lucy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • "Please, dwindle," Jones moaned, pressing his palms to his eyes.

    Master of None Lloyd Neil Goble
  • dwindle, sitting on his left, suddenly punched him vigorously in the ribs.

    Master of None Lloyd Neil Goble
  • "Maybe he just wants clarification on a question," dwindle said.

    Master of None Lloyd Neil Goble
  • "Over all, ninety-six per cent for Mr. Smith," dwindle said for the fourth time.

    Master of None Lloyd Neil Goble
British Dictionary definitions for dwindle


to grow or cause to grow less in size, intensity, or number; diminish or shrink gradually
Word Origin
C16: from Old English dwīnan to waste away; related to Old Norse dvīna to pine away
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 dwindle

1590s, apparently diminutive and frequentative of Middle English dwinen "waste away, fade, vanish," from Old English dwinan, from Proto-Germanic *dwinanan (cf. Dutch dwijnen "to vanish," Old Norse dvina, Danish tvine, Low German dwinen), from PIE *dheu- (3) "to die" (see die (v.)). Related: Dwindled; dwindling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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