Origin of trimmer

First recorded in 1510–20; trim + -er1




comparative of trim.



verb (used with object), trimmed, trim·ming.

to put into a neat or orderly condition by clipping, paring, pruning, etc.: to trim a hedge.
to remove (something superfluous or dispensable) by or as if by cutting (often followed by off): to trim off loose threads from a ragged edge.
to cut down, as to required size or shape: trim a budget; trim a piece of wood.
Aeronautics. to level off (an airship or airplane) in flight.
  1. to distribute the load of (a ship) so that it sits well in the water.
  2. to stow or arrange, as cargo.
  3. to adjust (the sails or yards) with reference to the direction of the wind and the course of the ship.
to decorate or adorn with ornaments or embellishments: to trim a dress with fur.
to arrange goods in (a store window, showcase, etc.) as a display.
to prepare or adjust (a lamp, fire, etc.) for proper burning.
  1. to rebuke or reprove.
  2. to beat or thrash.
  3. to defeat.
to dress or array (often followed by up).

verb (used without object), trimmed, trim·ming.

  1. to assume a particular position or trim in the water, as a vessel.
  2. to adjust the sails or yards with reference to the direction of the wind and the course of the ship.
to pursue a neutral or cautious policy between parties.
to accommodate one's views to the prevailing opinion for reasons of expediency.


the condition, order, or fitness of a person or thing for action, work, use, etc.
  1. the set of a ship in the water, especially the most advantageous one.
  2. the condition of a ship with reference to its fitness for sailing.
  3. the adjustment of sails, rigging, etc., with reference to wind direction and the course of the ship.
  4. the condition of a submarine as regards buoyancy.
a person's dress, adornment, or appearance.
material used for decoration or embellishment; decorative trimming.
decoration of a store window for the display of merchandise; window dressing.
a trimming by cutting, clipping, or the like.
a haircut that restores the previous cut to neatness without changing the hair style.
something that is cut off or eliminated.
Aeronautics. the attitude of an airplane with respect to all three axes, at which balance occurs in forward flight under no controls.
Building Trades. finished woodwork or the like used to decorate or border openings or wall surfaces, as cornices, baseboards, or moldings.
  1. the upholstery, knobs, handles, and other equipment inside a motor car.
  2. ornamentation on the exterior of an automobile, especially in metal or a contrasting color.

adjective, trim·mer, trim·mest.

pleasingly neat or smart in appearance: trim lawns.
in good condition or order.
(of a person) in excellent physical condition: Swimming is a good way to keep trim.
slim; lean.
Obsolete. good, excellent, or fine.



Origin of trim

before 900; probably continuing Old English trymman, trymian to strengthen, prepare (not recorded in ME), derivative of trum strong, active; akin to Irish dron strong, Greek drȳmós coppice, Latin dūrus hard. See tree
Related formstrim·ly, adverbtrim·ness, nouno·ver·trim, verb, o·ver·trimmed, o·ver·trim·ming.pre·trim, verb, pre·trimmed, pre·trim·ming.

Synonyms for trim Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for trimmer

Contemporary Examples of trimmer

Historical Examples of trimmer

  • "Oh, he's too much of a trimmer to go back on us now," said Joyce.

    A Woman for Mayor

    Helen M. Winslow

  • From the edger the boards are carried to the trimmer, which cuts the length.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

  • Mr. Trimmer pounded on the table with his pencil in lieu of a gavel.

    The Making of Bobby Burnit

    George Randolph Chester

  • It was Trimmer who did this; somehow, someway he did it, and he flaunts it in our faces.

    The Making of Bobby Burnit

    George Randolph Chester

  • They were letter-heads of Trimmer and Company and were covered with Rubbles figures.

    The Making of Bobby Burnit

    George Randolph Chester

British Dictionary definitions for trimmer



Also called: trimmer joist a beam in a floor or roof structure attached to truncated joists in order to leave an opening for a staircase, chimney, etc
a machine for trimming timber
Also called: trimming capacitor electronics a variable capacitor of small capacitance used for making fine adjustments, etc
a person who alters his or her opinions on the grounds of expediency
a person who fits out motor vehicles


adjective trimmer or trimmest

neat and spruce in appearance
slim; slender
in good condition

verb trims, trimming or trimmed (mainly tr)

to put in good order, esp by cutting or pruning
to shape and finish (timber)
to adorn or decorate
(sometimes foll by off or away) to cut so as to removeto trim off a branch
to cut down to the desired size or shapeto trim material to a pattern
dialect to decorateto trim a Christmas tree
  1. (also intr)to adjust the balance of (a vessel) or (of a vessel) to maintain an even balance, by distribution of ballast, cargo, etc
  2. (also intr)to adjust (a vessel's sails) to take advantage of the wind
  3. to stow (cargo)
to balance (an aircraft) before flight by adjusting the position of the load or in flight by the use of trim tabs, fuel transfer, etc
(also intr) to modify (one's opinions, etc) to suit opposing factions or for expediency
informal to thrash or beat
informal to rebuke
obsolete to furnish or equip


a decoration or adornment
the upholstery and decorative facings, as on the door panels, of a car's interior
proper order or fitness; good shapein trim
a haircut that neatens but does not alter the existing hairstyle
  1. the general set and appearance of a vessel
  2. the difference between the draught of a vessel at the bow and at the stern
  3. the fitness of a vessel
  4. the position of a vessel's sails relative to the wind
  5. the relative buoyancy of a submarine
dress or equipment
US window-dressing
the attitude of an aircraft in flight when the pilot allows the main control surfaces to take up their own positions
films a section of shot cut out during editing
material that is trimmed off
decorative mouldings, such as architraves, picture rails, etc
Derived Formstrimly, adverbtrimness, noun

Word Origin for trim

Old English trymman to strengthen; related to trum strong, Old Irish druma tree, Russian drom thicket



the county town of Meath, Republic of Ireland; 12th-century castle, medieval cathedral; textiles and machinery. Pop: 5894 (2002)
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 trimmer

"one who changes opinions, actions, etc. to suit circumstances," 1680s, agent noun from trim (v.) in a nautical sense of "distribute the load of a ship so she floats on an even keel" (1570s), hence, "to adjust the balance of sails or yards with reference to the wind's direction" (1620s).



probably from Old English trymman "strengthen, make ready," from trum "strong, stable," from Proto-Germanic *trumaz; said to be cognate with Sanskrit drumah "tree," Greek drymos "copse, thicket," drys "tree, oak," and Old English treow (see tree). Examples in Middle English are wanting.

Original sense is preserved in nautical phrase in fighting trim (see trim (n.)). Meaning "make neat by cutting" is first recorded 1520s; that of "decorate, adorn" is from 1540s. Sense of "reduce" is attested from 1966. The adjective sense of "in good condition, neat, fit" is attested from c.1500, probably ultimately from Old English adjective trum.



"state of being prepared," 1580s, nautical jargon, from trim (v.). The meaning "visible woodwork of a house" is recorded from 1884; sense of "ornamental additions to an automobile" is from 1922. Slang meaning "a woman regarded as a sex object" is attested from 1955, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper