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verb (used without object), dwin·dled, dwin·dling.
  1. to become smaller and smaller; shrink; waste away: His vast fortune has dwindled away.
  2. to fall away, as in quality; degenerate.
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verb (used with object), dwin·dled, dwin·dling.
  1. to make smaller and smaller; cause to shrink: Failing health dwindles ambition.
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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 formsun·dwin·dling, adjective


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1. See decrease.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

decline, abate, ebb, wane, lessen, drop, subside, wither, decrease, sink, fade, fall, decay, diminish, shrivel, shrink, weaken, bate, drain, taper

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British Dictionary definitions for dwindling


  1. to grow or cause to grow less in size, intensity, or number; diminish or shrink gradually
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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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper