Definition of thin in English:

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Pronunciation: /θɪn/

adjective (thinner, thinnest)

1With opposite surfaces or sides that are close or relatively close together: thin slices of bread a thin line of paint
More example sentences
  • The stations were separated by thin partitions and the side walls were painted drywall.
  • He shook his head and pressed his lips together in a thin line.
  • Once you have bunched four or five sprigs together, wind thin wire around the cluster, leaving a one-inch spike at the bottom.
narrow, fine, pencil-thin, thread-like, attenuated
rare attenuate
wafer-thin, paper-thin, papery
1.1(Of a garment or other knitted or woven item) made of light material: his thin jacket
More example sentences
  • She began to feel her thin shoes break under her, and the muscles in her thighs started to burn with fury from the intense climb.
  • Her veil was thin, and woven and accommodated little sprinkles everywhere.
  • Her own shoes were so thin, and her steps so graceful that they hardly made a sound.
lightweight, light, fine, delicate, floaty, flimsy, diaphanous, gossamer, insubstantial;
sheer, gauzy, filmy, chiffony, transparent, see-through, translucent
1.2(Of a garment or fabric) having become less thick as a result of wear: our clothing was getting thin
More example sentences
  • His too-big jeans were ripped in the knees, and his tee shirt was worn into a thin fabric.
  • They both were wearing very thin shirts with a ton of holes in them.
1.3(Of writing or printing) consisting of narrow lines: tall, thin lettering
More example sentences
  • In thin gilt lettering on the creamy white of the menu, how little those words conveyed to the bulk of the imperfectly educated diners.
  • It reminds me of the old digital watch I had as a kid, with thin black lettering on the grey screen.
2Having little, or too little, flesh or fat on the body: a thin, gawky adolescent
More example sentences
  • So what motivated her to drop from a healthy 130 pounds to being so thin that today she wears a pair of flannel pants under her size one jeans just to hold them up?
  • Rakishly thin, he wore tattered cords that rode half way up his skeleton legs.
  • I see a thin, bearded guy wearing a thick turtleneck sweater, spooning coffee into a mug in his small flat, scowling at the newspaper.
slim, lean, slender, rangy, willowy, svelte, sylphlike, spare, slight;
skinny, underweight, scrawny, scraggy, bony, angular, raw-boned, hollow-cheeked, gaunt, as thin as a rake, as thin as a reed, like a matchstick, stick-like, size-zero, skin-and-bones, emaciated, skeletal, cadaverous, like a skeleton, wasted, pinched, undernourished, underfed;
lanky, spindly, stringy, gangly, gangling, reedy, weedy
informal looking like a bag of bones, anorexic, anorectic
dated spindle-shanked
rare gracile, starveling, macilent
3Having few parts or members relative to the area covered or filled; sparse: a depressingly thin crowd his hair was going thin
More example sentences
  • Their fur was thickest in patches on the head and groin, elsewhere it was thin and limited.
  • The forest started to looked thinner, and he thought he'd found something.
  • Others argue that allied troops are too thin on the ground to make any difference.
sparse, scanty, wispy, thinning
meagre, paltry, poor, inadequate, insufficient, sparse, scanty, scattered
3.1(Of the air or a substance in the air) not dense: the thin cold air of the mountains
More example sentences
  • Such journeying to cold, high places where the air is thin requires lengthy preparation for the most severe conditions conceivable.
  • The route itself can be slick and frozen over, and exhausted runners may be prone to hypothermia in the thin, cold air.
  • You are about 27,000 feet up in the Earth's atmosphere, the air is thin, you are using an oxygen tank.
3.2 Climbing Denoting a route on which the holds are small or scarce.
Example sentences
  • This is a shoe that excels when face climbing or thin crack climbing.
  • There is a bolt right before a thin little crux move.
  • There, a series of thin moves leads you up the remainder of the corner, then you end up facing a traverse to the right under a huge, overhanging roof.
4(Of a liquid substance) not containing much solid; flowing freely: thin soup
More example sentences
  • If there is only a slight excess of sugar over the normal saturation level, the supercooled liquid is a thin syrup.
  • In a dark corner, two fighters are dozing while a thin potato and lamb soup simmers on the stove.
  • Yet, there really was nothing unusual about the soup, merely a thin beef broth with onions.
watery, watered down, weak, dilute, diluted, thinned down;
runny, sloppy;
South African  slap
5Lacking substance or quality; weak or inadequate: the evidence is rather thin
More example sentences
  • The supplements on Disc Two are surprisingly thin and lacking in substance.
  • It's weak, it's thin, it's insipid and it's desperately unsatisfying.
  • If formal sources of law, and the law they produce, have become too thin and weak for the tasks they should accomplish, supportive normativity may be found in tradition.
insubstantial, flimsy, slight, feeble, lame, poor, weak, shallow, tenuous, threadbare, inadequate, insufficient;
unconvincing, unbelievable, implausible
5.1(Of a sound) faint and high-pitched: a thin, reedy little voice
More example sentences
  • Behind that sound, hidden in it, was the thin, faint sound of a woman's distant scream, coming from inside the building.
  • While dialog is always audible, the sound is thin and harsh, especially during the music.
  • Technically the picture is often subpar, and the sound is rather thin and tinny.
weak, faint, feeble, small, soft, low;
reedy, high-pitched
5.2(Of a smile) weak and forced.
Example sentences
  • ‘It was quite a nasty fall,’ he explained, a thin smile forming on his lips in recognition of the understatement.
  • Anthony and I stared at him and smiled thin smiles, desperate not to catch each other's eye.
  • Emerging from the sitting room into the hall, her smile is thin and set and she disappears immediately.


With little thickness or depth: cut the ham as thin as possible [in combination]: a thin-sliced loaf
More example sentences
  • The homemade onion rings are even better, cut thin and lightly battered so there's a nice balance between crust and juicy onion.
  • The sashimi can be wonderful, cut translucently thin and ingeniously arranged.

verb (thins, thinning, thinned)

1Make or become less dense, crowded, or numerous: [with object]: the remorseless fire of archers thinned their ranks [no object]: the trees began to thin out (as adjective thinning) thinning hair
More example sentences
  • But when it comes to the lost causes, the inevitable setbacks, the small defeats, the crowds thin out quickly.
  • We'll open up at 9am and stay open until 3pm or whenever the crowds thin out.
  • The crowd began to thin out but not so that the bar was entirely empty.
become less dense/numerous, decrease, diminish, dwindle, lessen, become less in number;
disperse, dissipate, scatter
prune, cut back, trim
technical single
1.1 [with object] Remove some plants from (a row or area) to allow the others more room to grow: thin out the rows of peas
More example sentences
  • Rows were thinned to provide an even plant spacing and each plant marked with a numbered stake.
  • The rule specifically gives the U.S. Forest Service the power to build a road, fight a fire or thin an area to reduce fire risk.
  • It is hoped that by thinning the area around the veteran oaks, it will encourage the public to enjoy the view of the trees.
1.2Make or become more watery in consistency: [with object]: if the soup is too thick, add a little water to thin it down [no object]: the blood thins
More example sentences
  • Oil paint can be thinned to a watery consistency or brushed on with thick luscious strokes.
  • Heat through, adding water to thin to desired consistency.
  • A side effect common to all anticoagulants is the risk of excessive bleeding, due to the blood being thinned.
dilute, water down, weaken
2Make or become smaller in thickness: [with object]: their effect in thinning the ozone layer is probably slowing the global warming trend
More example sentences
  • At Kimmeridge 3, the sandstone body maintains its thickness before thinning rapidly toward Southard Quarry.
  • Over the past 40 years, the Arctic ice pack has thinned and shrunk significantly.
  • The ash is local in occurrence; its maximum thickness is about 1m, but it thins laterally to a few tens of centimetres over about 40 m.
3 [with object] Golf Hit (a ball) above its centre.
Example sentences
  • The lie was not great and the shot was slightly thinned, the ball finishing as much as 40 feet past the cup.
  • That was as close to the ball as you can get without thinning it.
  • The other important moment of his round came soon after noon, when first he mishit his five-iron on the 17th, then thinned the ensuing bunker shot.



have a thin time

British informal Have an unpleasant period or experience.
Example sentences
  • The men in green have had a thin time of it recently with injuries and absences stretching the squad to its limit.
  • As elsewhere in the region, racing had a thin time during World War I and took time to recover.
  • Our orchestras are having a thin time of it, and there is genuine concern as to how many orchestras will exist ten years from now.

on thin ice

see ice.

thin air

Used to refer to the state of being invisible or non-existent: she just vanished into thin air
More example sentences
  • Immorality prevails as sympathy for the unfortunate diminishes into thin air.
  • We've seen in the collapse of many technology companies that figures were plucked out of thin air.
  • Teaching unions have also joined force to ask how millions of pounds have seemingly disappeared into thin air.

the thin blue line

informal Used to refer to the police, typically in the context of maintaining order during unrest: the thin blue line holds the frontier between chaos and civilian life, between crime and the American dream
More example sentences
  • Look at the tough new border controls and the co-ordination of European police forces manning the thin blue line against the horde.
  • His self-assurance, generated by his exalted status within the department, is complete; it's what guides him during his regular sorties across the thin blue line, from order into chaos and back again.
  • People living in rural areas need to take precautions and taking care also helps the police - the thin blue line in the countryside.

thin end of the wedge

see wedge1.

thin on the ground


thin on top

informal Balding: Eddie noticed he was getting thin on top
More example sentences
  • I bought him a toupee once because he is a bit thin on top.
  • She said particular attention should be paid to shoulders and the backs of feet - the most sensitive areas - while men going thin on top should always wear a hat or use sunblock.
  • He was described as 5ft 7in tall, in his 40s or 50s, with light-coloured hair, which was thin on top.



Pronunciation: /ˈθɪnɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • She's thinnish and ascetic-looking but quite attractive.
  • The starters were poor, though, a thinnish seafood broth with chunks of tinned tomato expiring at the bottom and a ham hough terrine that, while chunkily rustic, contained too much gristle for comfort.
  • Although a thinnish volume, be prepared to allow double the time it would usually take to read another book of similar length.


Old English thynne, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dun and German dünn, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin tenuis.

  • The Old English word thin shares an ancient root with Latin tenuis ‘thin, fine, shallow’, the source of extenuate (mid 16th century) and tenuous (late 16th century). An action which is unimportant in itself, but likely to lead to more serious developments is sometimes described as the thin end of the wedge. The idea here is of something being levered open by the insertion of the edge of a wedge into a narrow crack to widen the opening so that the thicker part can also pass through. The thin red line used to be a name for the British army, in reference to the traditional scarlet uniform. The phrase first occurs in The Times of 24 January 1855, reporting a debate about the distribution of medals for the Crimean War in the House of Lords at which the Earl of Ellenborough who spoke of ‘the services of that “thin red line” which had met and routed the Russian cavalry.’ It has now become so much part of our language that the colour may be altered to change the meaning—the thin blue line can mean the police force.

Words that rhyme with thin

agin, akin, begin, Berlin, bin, Boleyn, Bryn, chin, chin-chin, Corinne, din, fin, Finn, Flynn, gaijin, Glyn, grin, Gwyn, herein, Ho Chi Minh, in, inn, Jin, jinn, kin, Kweilin, linn, Lynn, mandolin, mandoline, Min, no-win, pin, Pinyin, quin, shin, sin, skin, spin, therein, Tientsin, tin, Tonkin, Turin, twin, underpin, Vietminh, violin, wherein, whin, whipper-in, win, within, Wynne, yin

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: thin

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