[ dih-min-ish ]
/ dɪˈmɪn ɪʃ /
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See synonyms for: diminish / diminished / diminishes / diminishing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to make or cause to seem smaller, less, less important, etc.; lessen; reduce.
Architecture. to give (a column) a form tapering inward from bottom to top.
Music. to make (an interval) smaller by a chromatic half step than the corresponding perfect or minor interval.
to detract from the authority, honor, stature, or reputation of; disparage.
verb (used without object)
to lessen; decrease.
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Origin of diminish

1400–50; late Middle English; blend of diminuen (<Anglo-French diminuer<Medieval Latin dīminuere for Latin dēminuere to make smaller) and minishenminish

synonym study for diminish

5. See decrease.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does diminish mean?

To diminish is to become smaller, fewer, or less, as in If we don’t order more, our stock of supplies will slowly diminish until we run out completely.

It can also mean to make smaller, fewer, or less, as in We need to diminish our reliance on fossil fuels. Close synonyms of these senses of diminish are reduce, decrease, and lessen.

Diminish can also be used in less literal ways. It can mean to make something seem smaller or less significant, as in The senator tried to diminish his role in the scandal. The verb downplay is used in a similar way.

To diminish a person is to reduce or take away from their stature, reputation, or authority in some way—to belittle or disparage them, as in The new tell-all book is clearly an attempt to diminish a man who is regarded as a legend in his field. 

Example: My interest in sports has diminished since I was a kid—I’m only a casual fan now.

Where does diminish come from?

The first records of the word diminish come from the 1400s. It comes from a blend of the Anglo-French-derived term diminuen, meaning “to lessen” (from Latin verb dēminuere, “to make smaller”), and the archaic word minish, which means the same thing as diminish.

A common use of diminish is in the phrase diminishing returns, which is used in the context of economics, business, and other fields to refer to a reduction in the desired result (the “return”) of some action, such as profit, productivity, or some other benefit. The law of diminishing returns is a model, developed by economist David Ricardo, stating that as more effort or money is invested into a venture, the less returns one is likely to get over time. The concept can be applied to many fields.

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What are some other forms related to diminish?

  • diminished (past tense verb, adjective)
  • diminishing (continuous tense verb, adjective)
  • diminishment (noun)
  • diminishable (adjective)

What are some synonyms for diminish?

What are some words that share a root or word element with diminish

What are some words that often get used in discussing diminish?

How is diminish used in real life?

Diminish can be used in all kinds of contexts, including those involving both tangible things (like supplies) and intangible ones (like quality or reputation).


Try using diminish!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of diminish

A. lessen
B . shrink
C. decrease
D. enlarge

How to use diminish in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for diminish

/ (dɪˈmɪnɪʃ) /

to make or become smaller, fewer, or less
(tr) architect to cause (a column, etc) to taper
(tr) music to decrease (a minor or perfect interval) by a semitone
to belittle or be belittled; reduce in authority, status, etc; depreciate

Derived forms of diminish

diminishable, adjectivediminishingly, adverbdiminishment, noun

Word Origin for diminish

C15: blend of diminuen to lessen (from Latin dēminuere to make smaller, from minuere to reduce) + archaic minish to lessen
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