Definition of dwarf in English:


Syllabification: dwarf
Pronunciation: /dwôrf

noun (plural dwarfs or dwarves /dwôrvz/)

  • 1(In folklore or fantasy literature) a member of a mythical race of short, stocky humanlike creatures who are generally skilled in mining and metalworking.
    More example sentences
    • It is set in the world of the traditional fairy tale, with a cast of elves, dwarves, trolls and goblins as well as hobbits and humans.
    • Over the rolling plains of Edelwilde walk giants, dwarfs, elves, fairies and many other creatures unknown to the rest of the world.
    • One was a dwarf: short and stocky, with a beard that reached to his waist.
  • 1.1often • offensive An abnormally small person.
    More example sentences
    • Unlike Hudson, Miss M., as she is referred to in the novel, is perfectly formed, albeit around two feet tall: a midget, not a dwarf.
    • Back then we'd have said dwarf or midget, but that's not politically correct any more, is it?
    • Their son, David, who is nearly six years of age, was born a dwarf and today measures 92 cm the average size of a two year old.
    small person, short person; midget, pygmy, manikin, homunculus
  • 1.2 [as modifier] Denoting something, especially an animal or plant, that is much smaller than the usual size for its type or species: a dwarf conifer
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    • Evergreen plants, including dwarf conifers such as hemlocks, junipers, pines, and spruces, can form a backbone to anchor the design of a rock garden.
    • Coastal heathlands are dominated by early successional species such as dwarf shrubs and grasses, and support many rare and endemic species.
    • Many conifer trees species have dwarf varieties available.
    miniature, small, little, tiny, toy, pocket, diminutive, baby, pygmy, stunted, undersized, undersize
    informal mini, teeny, teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy, pint-sized, little-bitty, vertically challenged
    Scottish wee
  • 2 (also dwarf star) Astronomy A star of relatively small size and low luminosity, including the majority of main sequence stars.
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    • The new planet was detected orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 876, which is about one third as massive as our Sun.
    • The stellar wind from the red dwarf star removes the dust in the debris disk by causing the dust to slowly spiral into the star.
    • The planet orbits the M class red dwarf star Gliese 436, located only 33 light years away, in our own galactic neighborhood.


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  • 1Cause to seem small or insignificant in comparison: the buildings surround and dwarf All Saints Church
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    • The new design does not even remotely fit in with the rest of the area and will, as you can see, dwarf the other surrounding buildings.
    • In comparison the earth is dwarfed by mighty Jupiter, so the presence of Ganymede is not really that unusual.
    • The ship seemed tiny and insignificant now, dwarfed by the great tower of the Pharos lighthouse.
    dominate, tower over, loom over, overshadow, overtopovershadow, outshine, surpass, exceed, outclass, outstrip, outdo, top, trump, transcend; diminish, minimize
  • 1.1Stunt the growth or development of: (as adjective dwarfed) the dwarfed but solid branch of a tree
    More example sentences
    • The anatomy of the graft tissue between a rootstock and its shoot can provide a mechanistic explanation of the way dwarfing Malus rootstocks reduce shoot growth.
    • The two independent, recessive dwarfing genes produced four distinct seedling growth habits in field trials.
    • Without proper DNA methylation, higher organisms from plants to humans have a host of developmental problems, from dwarfing in plants to tumor development in humans to certain death in mice.



More example sentences
  • There can be few among today's absintheurs whose skills are on a par with this dwarfish playwright, author of Ubu Roi and creator of the monstrous stage figure Pere Ubu.
  • The intimidating old man stood to his full height, which was tall but nowhere close to Grady's two-meter form, and glowered down at the dwarfish Jerwon.
  • A small dwarfish creature, largely hidden by rag coverings with a protruding hook of a nose and sparkling yellow eyes emerged from the heavy undergrowth.


Old English dweorg, dweorh, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dwerg and German Zwerg.


In the sense ‘an abnormally small person,’ dwarf is normally considered offensive. However, there are no accepted alternatives in the general language, since terms such as person of restricted growth sound overeuphemistic and have gained little currency.

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