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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 dwindling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Cave-walls and roof all shrinking, dwindling, drawing down upon him.

    The World Beyond Raymond King Cummings
  • Great distances here, in relation to the giant globe, were dwindling!

    The World Beyond Raymond King Cummings
  • My poor father's health and his income were dwindling together.

    The Stark Munro Letters J. Stark Munro
  • Even the thunder had rolled away, dwindling to a deep mutter.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • Below him was a shrinking, dwindling landscape, wind-swept and desolate.

British Dictionary definitions for dwindling


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 dwindling



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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