Definition of diminish in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /dəˈminiSH/


1Make or become less: [with object]: a tax whose purpose is to diminish spending [no object]: the pain will gradually diminish
More example sentences
  • The propensity for people enriched by capital gains to borrow and spend is gradually diminishing.
  • The agrarian sector of the economy is gradually diminishing as the service sector assumes prominence.
  • The itching usually diminishes gradually and eventually stops after complete wound healing.
decrease, lessen, decline, reduce, subside, die down, abate, dwindle, fade, slacken off, moderate, let up, ebb, wane, recede, die away/out, peter out
archaic remit
reduce, decrease, lessen, curtail, cut, cut down/back, constrict, restrict, limit, curb, check;
weaken, blunt, erode, undermine, sap
1.1 [with object] Make (someone or something) seem less impressive or valuable: the trial has aged and diminished him
More example sentences
  • This lack of comprehensiveness in no way diminishes the valuable contribution made by this fine book.
  • At Lynn the right of any member of the community to attend at least the more important assemblies was not diminished by the constitutional compromise of 1420.
  • The wardens complained that the plan has effectively smeared them and diminished their status.
belittle, disparage, denigrate, defame, deprecate, run down;
decry, demean, cheapen, devalue
formal derogate


(the law of) diminishing returns

Used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.
Example sentences
  • The basis for the argument is the law of diminishing returns: As increasing amounts of a variable input are added, the returns per unit become less and less.
  • The quest for perfect information demands the highest investment of time and money and ignores the law of diminishing returns.
  • However, because of the law of diminishing returns, the way we've spent money on politics will change.



Pronunciation: /dəˈminəSHəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • That case comprises two major portions such that the length of the case is not diminishable during transportation.
  • True teachings have their foundation in Sacred Scripture and are understood to be neither diminishable nor reversible.
  • This was definitely the crux of the pitch as the difficulties were stiff, but always seemed to be diminishable with thoughtful bridging and careful footwork.


Late Middle English: blend of archaic minish 'diminish' (based on Latin minutia 'smallness') and obsolete diminue 'speak disparagingly' (based on Latin deminuere 'lessen' (in late Latin diminuere), from minuere 'make small').

  • This is a medieval English blend of two obsolete words that share its meaning, ‘to lessen’: diminue and minish. Both ultimately go back to Latin minutus ‘small’, the source of minute in the same sense. In economics the law of diminishing returns draws attention to the point at which profits are less than the amount of money invested. It originated in the first half of the 19th century with reference to profits from agriculture.

Words that rhyme with diminish

finish, Finnish, thinnish

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: di·min·ish

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.