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verb (used without object)
  1. to shine with or reflect a subdued, tremulous light; gleam faintly.
  2. to appear to quiver or vibrate in faint light or while reflecting heat waves.
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  1. a subdued, tremulous light or gleam.
  2. a quivering or vibrating motion or image as produced by reflecting faint light or heat waves.
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Origin of shimmer

before 1100; Middle English schimeren, s(c)hemeren, Old English scimrian; cognate with Dutch schemeren, German schimmern to glisten
Related formsshim·mer·ing·ly, adverbun·shim·mer·ing, adjectiveun·shim·mer·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for shimmer

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1. glimmer. See glisten.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shimmer

glint, glitter, sheen, glimmer, luster, shine, twinkle, gleam, sparkle, glow, gloss, glisten, spangle, flash, iridescence, coruscation, spark, scintillation, incandescence, phosphorescence

Examples from the Web for shimmer

Historical Examples of shimmer

  • They saw those rocks, through the shimmer of the surface glare.

    The Forest

    Stewart Edward White

  • Everything they do, everything they say, gets the colour and shimmer of the sea.

  • The trees outside were casting a shimmer of green through the sunshine in the room.


    Jane Abbott

  • There was a shimmer of light from the top and I took a closer look at it.

    The Repairman

    Harry Harrison

  • The blocks of ice flash and shimmer as they pass through the sunshine.


    Christopher Morley

British Dictionary definitions for shimmer


  1. (intr) to shine with a glistening or tremulous light
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  1. a faint, glistening, or tremulous light
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Derived Formsshimmering, adjectiveshimmeringly, adverb

Word Origin for shimmer

Old English scimerian; related to Middle Low German schēmeren to grow dark, Old Norse skimi brightness
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 shimmer


Old English scimerian "to glitter, shimmer, glisten, shine," related to (perhaps a frequentative of) scimian "to shine," from Proto-Germanic *skim- (cf. Swedish skimra, Dutch schemeren "to glitter," German schimmern), from PIE root *skai- "to gleam, to shine" (see shine (v.). Related: Shimmered; shimmering.

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"a tremulous light," 1821, from shimmer (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper