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dwarf

[dwawrf] /dwɔrf/
noun, plural dwarfs, dwarves.
1.
a person of abnormally small stature owing to a pathological condition, especially one suffering from cretinism or some other disease that produces disproportion or deformation of features and limbs.
2.
an animal or plant much smaller than the average of its kind or species.
3.
(in folklore) a being in the form of a small, often misshapen and ugly, man, usually having magic powers.
4.
Astronomy, dwarf star.
adjective
5.
of unusually small stature or size; diminutive.
verb (used with object)
6.
to cause to appear or seem small in size, extent, character, etc., as by being much larger or better:
He dwarfed all his rivals in athletic ability.
7.
to make dwarf or dwarfish; prevent the due development of.
verb (used without object)
8.
to become stunted or smaller.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English dwerf, Old English dweorh; replacing Middle English dwerg, Old English dweorg; cognate with Old High German twerg, Old Norse dvergr
Related forms
dwarflike, adjective
dwarfness, noun
undwarfed, adjective
Synonyms
1. Dwarf, midget, pygmy are terms for a very small person. A dwarf is someone checked in growth or stunted, or in some way not normally formed. A midget (not in technical use) is someone perfect in form and normal in function, but diminutive. A pygmy is properly a member of one of certain small-sized peoples of Africa and Asia, but the word is often used imprecisely to mean dwarf or midget. Dwarf is a term often used to describe very small plants. Pygmy is used to describe very small animals. 2. runt, miniature.
Antonyms
1, 5. giant.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for dwarf
  • Flowers and plants are larger than miniature dwarf bearded irises.
  • dwarf with tiny leaves that emerge bluish, take on rust tones.
  • dwarf plant with small, narrow, chocolate-brown leaves.
  • Elliptical galaxies may also be small, in which case they are dubbed dwarf elliptical galaxies.
  • Big was beautiful for geraniums until indoor gardeners were introduced to the world of dwarf geraniums.
  • It will bring each of them one-off costs in the tens of millions, but the savings over time will dwarf the initial outlay.
  • Plants that relied at times mostly on the dim red dwarf might need light from all across the visible spectrum.
  • Overall, he said, three minutes would be the fastest a binary white dwarf system could get.
  • When our sun comes to its ending in five billion years or so, it will fade into a quiescent white dwarf.
  • Move potted genetic dwarf peaches and nectarines to a covered location in rainy weather.
British Dictionary definitions for dwarf

dwarf

/dwɔːf/
noun (pl) dwarfs, dwarves (dwɔːvz)
1.
an abnormally undersized person, esp one with a large head and short arms and legs Compare midget
2.
  1. an animal or plant much below the average height for the species
  2. (as modifier): a dwarf tree
3.
(in folklore) a small ugly manlike creature, often possessing magical powers
4.
(astronomy) short for dwarf star
verb
5.
to become or cause to become comparatively small in size, importance, etc
6.
(transitive) to stunt the growth of
Derived Forms
dwarfish, adjective
dwarfishly, adverb
dwarfishness, noun
Word Origin
Old English dweorg; related to Old Norse dvergr, Old High German twerc
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 dwarf
n.

Old English dweorh, dweorg (West Saxon), duerg (Mercian), "very short human being," from Proto-Germanic *dweraz (cf. Old Frisian dwerch, Old Saxon dwerg, Old High German twerg, German Zwerg, Old Norse dvergr), perhaps from PIE *dhwergwhos "something tiny," but with no established cognates outside Germanic. The mythological sense is 1770, from German (it seems never to have developed independently in English).

Whilst in this and other ways the dwarfs do at times have dealings with mankind, yet on the whole they seem to shrink from man; they give the impression of a downtrodden afflicted race, which is on the point of abandoning its ancient home to new and more powerful invaders. There is stamped on their character something shy and something heathenish, which estranges them from intercourse with christians. They chafe at human faithlessness, which no doubt would primarily mean the apostacy from heathenism. In the poems of the Mid. Ages, Laurin is expressly set before us as a heathen. It goes sorely against the dwarfs to see churches built, bell-ringing ... disturbs their ancient privacy; they also hate the clearing of forests, agriculture, new fangled pounding-machinery for ore. ["Teutonic Mythology," Jacob Grimm, transl. Stallybrass, 1883]
The shift of the Old English guttural at the end of the word to modern -f is typical (cf. enough, draft). Old English plural dweorgas became Middle English dwarrows, later leveled down to dwarfs. The use of dwarves for the legendary race was popularized by J.R.R. Tolkien. As an adjective, from 1590s.

v.

"to render dwarfish," 1620s, from dwarf (n.); sense of "to cause to look small" is from 1850. Related: Dwarfed; dwarfing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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dwarf in Medicine

dwarf (dwôrf)
n. pl. dwarfs or dwarves (dwôrvz)
An abnormally small person, often having limbs and features not properly proportioned or formed.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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dwarf in Science
dwarf
  (dwôrf)   
  1. An abnormally small person, often having limbs and features atypically proportioned or formed.

  2. An atypically small animal or plant.

  3. A dwarf star or dwarf galaxy.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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dwarf in the Bible

a lean or emaciated person (Lev. 21:20).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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