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[dim] /dɪm/
adjective, dimmer, dimmest.
not bright; obscure from lack of light or emitted light:
a dim room; a dim flashlight.
not seen clearly or in detail; indistinct:
a dim object in the distance.
not clear to the mind; vague:
a dim idea.
not brilliant; dull in luster:
a dim color.
not clear or distinct to the senses; faint:
a dim sound.
not seeing clearly:
eyes dim with tears.
tending to be unfavorable; not likely to happen, succeed, be favorable, etc.:
a dim chance of winning.
not understanding clearly.
rather stupid; dim-witted.
verb (used with object), dimmed, dimming.
to make dim or dimmer.
to switch (the headlights of a vehicle) from the high to the low beam.
verb (used without object), dimmed, dimming.
to become or grow dim or dimmer.
Verb phrases
dim out, (in wartime) to reduce the night illumination of (a city, ship, etc.) to make it less visible from the air or sea, as a protection from enemy aircraft or ships.
take a dim view of, to regard with disapproval, skepticism, or dismay:
Her mother takes a dim view of her choice of friends.
Origin of dim
before 1000; Middle English, Old English dim(me), cognate with Old Frisian dim, Old Norse dimmr
Related forms
dimly, adverb
dimmable, adjective
dimness, noun
undim, adjective
undimly, adverb
undimmed, adjective
1. See dark. 3. unclear, faint, indefinite, indistinct, fuzzy, hazy. 10. darken, cloud. 12. dull, fade. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dimness
Historical Examples
  • She went in, gazed around in the dimness, sighed deeply, and struck a match.

    Zuleika Dobson Max Beerbohm
  • There must have been a dimness in his eyes and a quiver to his wide-lipped, generous mouth.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • Juba's mind was dark, very dark, as dimness after bright sunlight in the eyes.

    Step IV Rosel George Brown
  • If I look speculatively on the world, there is nothing but dimness and mystery.

    A Dish Of Orts George MacDonald
  • It was lighted by a subdued glow from coloured lanterns, but there was an occasional patch of dimness.

    Much Ado About Peter Jean Webster
  • But in the dimness of these two aisles lurks the spirit of the wilds.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • She seemed almost to be fading away in the dimness and in the noises of evening which rose from the Grande Rue.

    In the Wilderness Robert Hichens
  • I stood at the window, watching it, faint sheen of beam in the dimness.

  • A dimness clouded Margaret's beautiful eyes as this bitter picture—she had watched it—was again reviewed.

    Once Aboard The Lugger Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson
  • Ahead of them was the dimness of the hemlock forest; the solitude of the storm.

    Glory of Youth Temple Bailey
British Dictionary definitions for dimness


adjective dimmer, dimmest
badly illuminated: a dim room
not clearly seen; indistinct; faint: a dim shape
having weak or indistinct vision: eyes dim with tears
lacking in understanding; mentally dull
not clear in the mind; obscure: a dim memory
lacking in brilliance, brightness, or lustre: a dim colour
tending to be unfavourable; gloomy or disapproving (esp in the phrase take a dim view)
verb dims, dimming, dimmed
to become or cause to become dim
(transitive) to cause to seem less bright, as by comparison
(US & Canadian) (transitive) to switch (car headlights) from the main to the lower beam Also called (in Britain and certain other countries) dip
Derived Forms
dimly, adverb
dimness, noun
Word Origin
Old English dimm; related to Old Norse dimmr gloomy, dark
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
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Word Origin and History for dimness



Old English dimm "dark, gloomy, obscure," from Proto-Germanic *dimbaz (cf. Old Norse dimmr, Old Frisian dim, Old High German timber "dark, black, somber"). Not known outside Germanic. Slang sense of "stupid" is from 1892. Related: Dimly; dimness.


c.1200, perhaps in Old English, from dim (adj.). Related: Dimmed; dimming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for dimness



Stupid; uncomprehending: Anybody who pays to watch these teams has to be considered just a bit dim (1892+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with dimness


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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