make a dent


1 [dent]
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.
verb (used with object)
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.
verb (used without object)
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.

1250–1300; Middle English dente, variant of dint

undented, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
dent1 (dɛnt)
1.  a hollow or dip in a surface, as one made by pressure or a blow
2.  an appreciable effect, esp of lessening: a dent in our resources
3.  to impress or be impressed with a dent or dents
[C13 (in the sense: a stroke, blow): variant of dint]

dent2 (dɛnt)
1.  a toothlike protuberance, esp the tooth of a sprocket or gearwheel
2.  textiles the space between two wires in a loom through which a warp thread is drawn
[C16: from French: tooth]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., "a strike or blow," dialectal variant of M.E. dint (q.v.); sense of "indentation" first recorded 1560s, apparently influenced by indent.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

dent- pref.
Variant of denti-.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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