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[thin] /θɪn/
adjective, thinner, thinnest.
having relatively little extent from one surface or side to the opposite; not thick:
thin ice.
of small cross section in comparison with the length; slender:
a thin wire.
having little flesh; spare; lean:
a thin man.
composed of or containing objects, particles, etc., widely separated; sparse:
thin vegetation.
scant; not abundant or plentiful.
of relatively slight consistency or viscosity:
thin soup.
rarefied, as air.
without solidity or substance; flimsy:
a very thin plot for such a long book.
lacking fullness or volume; weak and shrill:
a thin voice.
without force or a sincere effort:
a thin smile.
lacking body, richness, or strength:
a thin wine.
lacking in chroma; of light tint.
Photography. (of a developed negative) lacking in density or contrast through underdevelopment or underexposure.
in a thin manner.
sparsely; not densely.
so as to produce something thin:
Slice the ham thin.
verb (used with object), thinned, thinning.
to make thin or thinner (often followed by down, out, etc.).
verb (used without object), thinned, thinning.
to become thin or thinner; become reduced or diminished (often followed by down, out, off, etc.):
The crowd is thinning out.
Origin of thin
before 900; (adj. and adv.) Middle English thyn(ne), Old English thynne; cognate with Dutch dun, German dünn, Old Norse thunnr; (v.) Middle English thynnen, Old English thynnian, derivative of the adj.; compare Middle Dutch dunnen, Old Norse thynna; akin to Old Irish tana, Latin tenuis thin, Greek tany- long
Related forms
thinly, adverb
thinness, noun
overthin, adjective
overthinly, adverb
overthinness, noun
self-thinning, adjective
superthin, adjective
unthinned, adjective
unthinning, adjective
3. slim, slender, skinny, lank, scrawny. Thin, gaunt, lean, spare agree in referring to one having little flesh. Thin applies often to one in an unnaturally reduced state, as from sickness, overwork, lack of food, or the like: a thin, dirty little waif. Gaunt suggests the angularity of bones prominently displayed in a thin face and body: to look ill and gaunt. Lean usually applies to a person or animal that is naturally thin: looking lean but healthy after an outdoor vacation. Spare implies a muscular leanness with no diminution of vitality: Lincoln was spare in body. 5. meager. 8. weak. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for thinness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The barrier had been blown away to such a thinness that the pressure from above was sufficient to break it through.

    Winter Fun William O. Stoddard
  • It isn't only thinness; these exercises keep you young and well and active in mind.

    Once a Week Alan Alexander Milne
  • His thinness gave him some advantages of figure, but he thought that it made his face older.

    Indian Summer William D. Howells
  • Then she noticed the thinness of his clothing and its dampness.

    Before the Dawn Joseph Alexander Altsheler
  • A villager was once struck with the largeness of a pumpkin and the thinness of the stem upon which it grew.

  • He hurried on lest she should call satiric attention to its thinness.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
British Dictionary definitions for thinness


adjective thinner, thinnest
of relatively small extent from one side or surface to the other; fine or narrow
slim or lean
sparsely placed; meagre: thin hair
of relatively low density or viscosity: a thin liquid
weak; poor; insufficient: a thin disguise
(of a photographic negative) having low density, usually insufficient to produce a satisfactory positive
(mountaineering) a climb or pitch on which the holds are few and small
thin on the ground, few in number; scarce
in order to produce something thin: to cut bread thin
verb thins, thinning, thinned
to make or become thin or sparse
Derived Forms
thinly, adverb
thinness, noun
Word Origin
Old English thynne; related to Old Frisian thenne, Old Saxon, Old High German thunni, Old Norse thunnr, Latin tenuis thin, Greek teinein to stretch
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 thinness



Old English þynne "narrow, lean, scanty," from Proto-Germanic *thunnuz, *thunw- (cf. West Frisian ten, Middle Low German dunne, Dutch dun, Old High German dunni, German dünn, Old Norse þunnr), from PIE *tnus-, *tnwi-, from weak grade of root *ten- "stretch" (cf. Latin tenuis "thin, slender;" see tenet).

These our actors ... were all Spirits, and Are melted into Ayre, into thin Ayre. [Shakespeare, "The Tempest," IV.i.150, 1610]
Thin-skinned is attested from 1590s; the figurative sense of "touchy" is from 1670s.


Old English þynnian "to make thin" (cf. German dünnen, Dutch dunnen), from thin (adj.). Intransitive sense of "to become less numerous" is attested from 1743; that of "to become thinner" is recorded from 1804. Related: Thinned; thinning.



Old English þynnian "to make thin" (cf. German dünnen, Dutch dunnen), from thin (adj.). Intransitive sense of "to become less numerous" is attested from 1743; that of "to become thinner" is recorded from 1804. Related: Thinned; thinning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with thinness
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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