Definition of damp in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /damp/


Slightly wet: her hair was still damp from the shower damp November evenings
More example sentences
  • With her back on the slightly damp grass, Selina watched the scattered clouds float by.
  • An hour later, the slightly damp crew boarded the buses for the final leg home.
  • Her hair was slightly damp from the long hours of tears and her tired, blue eyes were puffy.
moist, moistened, wettish, dampened, dampish;
humid, steamy, muggy, clammy, sweaty, sticky, dank, moisture-laden, wet, wetted, rainy, drizzly, showery, misty, foggy, vaporous, dewy


1 [mass noun] Moisture diffused through the air or a solid substance or condensed on a surface, typically with detrimental or unpleasant effects: the house reeked of mould and damp
More example sentences
  • Hotter, drier summers will bring an increased risk of property subsidence, while wetter winters may cause damp, condensation and mould problems.
  • If the walls were rendered with hard sand and cement, this would trap moisture, resulting in condensation or damp.
  • Five minutes later, once the smoke and clouds of damp had cleared, she turned to me: ‘Why did you buy this?’
moisture, dampness, humidity, wetness, wet, water, liquid, condensation, steam, vapour, clamminess, mugginess, dankness, wateriness;
rain, raininess, dew, drizzle, precipitation, spray;
perspiration, sweat
1.1 short for firedamp.
Example sentences
  • If the flame got larger, they knew they were encountering "fire damp" (methane gas).
  • He had been asked to investigate "fire-damp" (methane gas) explosions in coal mines, caused by the candles miners used as lighting.
  • Methane is a nonpoisonous, tasteless, odorless and colorless gas. It is also known as marsh gas (CH4) and, when mixed with air, it forms fire-damp.
1.2 (damps) archaic Damp air or atmosphere: the damps of the valley
More example sentences
  • A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps.
  • Cliff said, "In those days they called it foul air, bad air, the damps. Air without oxygen is what I think it was.
  • Stay not in this evil den; for the air is chill, and the damps are fatal; nor will any, that perish within it, ever find the path to Heaven.
2 archaic A discouragement or check: shame gave a damp to her triumph
More example sentences
  • Even though defensive coordinators have had ample time to study the triplets, they have yet to discover how to put damps on them.
  • The rising number of free services may have prompted a report circulating last week that AOL has put the damps on content partners, requiring them to limit links and joint ad campaigns with free ISPs.


[with object]
1Make (something) slightly wet: damp a small area with water
More example sentences
  • When they were dry they were damped and rolled for the dampness to spread evenly before they were ironed with an iron heated and reheated on the stove.
  • The tooling was done by damping the surface of the tanned leather and pressing or sometimes stamping the design in with a fairly sharp metal, bone or wooden tool.
  • Alternatively, damp a cloth with kerosene oil and carefully wipe the insects off with it.
2 (damp something down) Make a fire burn less strongly by reducing the flow of air to it: he damped down the fire for the night
More example sentences
  • Fire crews stayed until nearly 5am damping the building down.
  • Although I wasn't on duty for the fire, I was there in the evening damping it down.
  • He said it took the two crews ten minutes to fight the fire with foam and ten minutes to damp the car down with water.
2.1Control or restrain a feeling or a situation: she tried to damp down her feelings of despair
More example sentences
  • Asian multilateralism will be critical not just for coordinating the region's booming economies, but also for damping down the nationalist passions lurking beneath the surface of every Asian country.
  • Polley is unshowy and controlled in the star part, damping down her intelligence, beauty and almost all of her emotion for the role.
3Reduce or stop the vibration of (the strings of a piano or other musical instrument) so as to reduce the volume of sound: the muted notes should be produced by damping the strings at the seventh position (as adjective damped) an ensemble of drums including a foot-damped instrument
More example sentences
  • Although the escapement enables the hammer to fall away from the string, the damper is not allowed to fall back and damp the string until the key is released.
  • This guitar also has an ebony arm-rest to keep your arm from damping the sound from the top.
3.1 Physics Progressively reduce the amplitude of (an oscillation or vibration): concrete structures damp out any vibrations (as adjective damped) a damped suspension that isolates the chassis from external vibration
More example sentences
  • Sometimes you have to go through several oscillations before you can damp out the yaw.
  • If the oscillations are not damped out, they could break the fragile lines of other suspended weights and become amplified.
  • A little while ago he sent me a proposed solution by email, a method of moving the cup while you walk that should serve to damp the oscillations.



Pronunciation: /ˈdampɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • Another dampish day, never quite raining, never absolutely dry.
  • Our weather today is most disappointing, overcast and sort of dampish.
  • It was lunchtime on a dampish day which may have accounted for the small number of customers.


Pronunciation: /ˈdampli/
Example sentences
  • A piece of cottonwood fluff brought low by the rain settles damply onto the hood of the truck.
  • I left with my head held high and my uncut locks damply streaming behind me.
  • Twenty minutes later, skin still tingling and hair falling damply down her back, she trudged barefoot, dressed in jeans and an old sweat shirt toward her computer.


Middle English (in the noun sense 'noxious inhalation'): of West Germanic origin; related to a Middle Low German word meaning 'vapour, steam, smoke'.

  • We do not think of something damp as being dangerous, but the word originally meant a noxious gas. This use survives in firedamp (late 17th century), a name for methane gas, especially when it forms an explosive mixture with air in coal mines. Damp did not come to refer to wetness until the 18th century. The damp squib which failed to go off has probably always marred firework displays—a squib is a small firework that burns with a hissing sound before exploding. From the middle of the 19th century the phrase began to be used of situations and events that were much less impressive than expected. Nowadays, the phrase is sometimes heard as ‘damp squid’, people substituting a more familiar and more familiarly damp word for the rarer squib. See also fiasco, lead, lemon. Both damp and dank (Middle English) are Germanic in origin, but were not originally connected.

Words that rhyme with damp

amp, camp, champ, clamp, cramp, encamp, gamp, lamp, ramp, samp, scamp, stamp, tamp, tramp, vamp

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: damp

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.