- a hollow or depression in a surface, as from a blow.
- a noticeable effect, especially of reduction: to leave a dent in one's savings; a dent in one's pride.
- to make a dent in or on; indent: The impact dented the car's fender.
- to have the effect of reducing or slightly injuring: The caustic remark dented his ego.
- to show dents; become indented: Tin dents more easily than steel.
- to sink in, making a dent: Nails dent into metal.
- make a dent, Informal. to cause a person to take heed; make an impression: The doctor told him to stop smoking, but it didn't make a dent.
- make a dent in, to show initial progress; pass an initial stage of (work, thought, solving a problem, etc.): I haven't even made a dent in this pile of work.
Origin of dent1
- a hollow or dip in a surface, as one made by pressure or a blow
- an appreciable effect, esp of lesseninga dent in our resources
- to impress or be impressed with a dent or dents
- a toothlike protuberance, esp the tooth of a sprocket or gearwheel
- textiles the space between two wires in a loom through which a warp thread is drawn
Word Origin and History for make a dent in
late 14c., from dent (n.). Related: Dented; denting.
early 14c., "a strike or blow," dialectal variant of Middle English dint (q.v.); sense of "indentation" first recorded 1560s, apparently influenced by indent.
Idioms and Phrases with make a dent in
make a dent in
Begin to accomplish or consume something, as in I've barely made a dent in this pile of correspondence, or Help us put a dent in this pie. This metaphoric expression alludes to striking a blow to make a physical indentation in something.
see make a dent in.