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adj. thin·ner, thin·nest
a. Relatively small in extent from one surface to the opposite, usually in the smallest solid dimension: a thin book.
b. Not great in diameter or cross section; fine: thin wire.
2. Having little bodily flesh or fat; lean or slender.
a. Not dense or concentrated; sparse: the thin vegetation of the plateau.
b. More rarefied than normal: thin air.
a. Flowing with relative ease; not viscous: a thin oil.
b. Watery: thin soup.
a. Sparsely supplied or provided; scanty: a thin menu.
b. Having a low number of transactions: thin trading in the stock market.
6. Lacking force or substance; flimsy: a thin attempt.
7. Lacking resonance or fullness; tinny: The piano had a thin sound.
8. Lacking radiance or intensity: thin light.
9. Not having enough photographic density or contrast to make satisfactory prints. Used of a negative.
1. In a thin manner: Spread the varnish thin if you don't want it to wrinkle.
2. So as to be thin: Cut the cheese thin.
tr. & intr.v. thinned, thin·ning, thins
To make or become thin or thinner.

[Middle English, from Old English thynne; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]

thin′ly adv.
thin′ness n.
thin′nish adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



See Also: BODY

  1. Body … as meager as a pole —Leslie Thomas
  2. Lean and thin as a fallen leaf —George Garrett
  3. Lean as a bird dying in the snow —Émile Zola
  4. Lean as a herring —Irwin Shaw
  5. Lean as a shadow or ghost —George Garrett
  6. Lean as a snake —John Berryman
  7. Lean as a whipcord —Norman Mailer
  8. Lean as El Greco’s Saint Andres —Harry Prince
  9. Lean as the dead branch of a tree —Frank Swinnerton
  10. Lean as Ugulino —Dylan Thomas

    The comparison refers to Count Ugolino of Pisa, imprisoned and starved to death in Dante’s Inferno.

  11. Leaner than wasps —Phyllis McGinley

    McGinley’s comparison referred to the stone lions at the doors of the New York Hispanic Society building.

  12. Looked beaky and thin, like a bird —Mavis Gallant
  13. Looking as skinny and blue as a jailhouse tattoo —Tom Robbins
  14. Looks as if he’s been carved from a shadow —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  15. [A red line in the sky at dawn] narrow as a needle —John D. MacDonald
  16. Skinny as a fence post —George Garrett
  17. Slender as a flower’s stem —Arthur Sherburne Hardy
  18. Slim and evasive as a needle’s eye —Paige Mitchell


  19. Slim as a cat —Sue Grafton
  20. Slim as a little serpent —Anton Chekhov
  21. Slim as a mast —Geoffrey Chaucer
  22. Slim … like a twig stripped of bark —John Updike
  23. So skinny he looked as though, if you shook him, his bones would sound like one of those Javanese musicians who play on coconut shells —Leslie Hanscomb, Newsday, September 11, 1986

    The thin man so described is Frank Sinatra in his early days.

  24. So skinny he looked like he’d been pulled through a keyhole —Fred Allen
  25. So skinny you clack like a floating crap game when you walk down the street —Russell Baker
  26. So thin that he was like a clothed skeleton —Jean Rhys
  27. So thin that if you touch her back you can feel the ribs, like ridges on a roll-top desk —Leslie Garis, New York Times Magazine, February 8, 1987

    The person thus described is author Joan Didion.

  28. (She remained) thin as a baseball contract —Norman Keifetz
  29. Thin and clear as green leaves in April —Elinor Wylie
  30. Thin and quiet as shadows —George Garrett

    See Also: SILENCE

  31. Thin as a bean pole —Anon
  32. Thin as a cobweb —Jean Garrigue
  33. Thin as a dime —American colloquialism, attributed to New England
  34. Thin as a file —Reynolds Price
  35. Thin as a moonbeam —Max Apple
  36. Thin as an empty dress —Marge Piercy
  37. Thin as an exclamation mark —Anon
  38. Thin as an onion shoot —Gloria Norris
  39. Thin as a pauper’s wallet —Anon
  40. Thin as a pencil line —Mary Lee Settle
  41. Thin as a rail —American colloquialism, attributed to New England
  42. [A heron] thin as a safety pin —Susan Minot
  43. Thin as a scythe —Donald Justice
  44. Thin as a sheet (his mother came to him) —John Berryman
  45. Thin as a sheeted ghost —Stevie Smith
  46. Thin as a thread —William H. Hallhan
  47. Thin as a switch —Mark Helprin
  48. Thin as a thermometer —Albert L. Weeks
  49. Thin as a walking stick —Doris Grumback
  50. (The steering wheel is … ) thin as a whip —John Updike
  51. Thin as a whisper —Anon
  52. Thin as a wire —Raymond Chandler
  53. Thin as breath —Sharon Sheehe Stark
  54. Thin as chop-sticks —Rumer Godden
  55. [Partitions] thin as crackers —Tom Robbins
  56. Thin as linguini —Anon
  57. [Children] thin as little white-haired ghosts —Carson McCullers
  58. (The old man looked) thin as paper —Richard Ford

    An extension made popular in New England is: “Thin as the paper on the wall.”

  59. Thin as pared soap —Sharon Olds

    In the poem in which this appears, the simile is extended to include breasts “As opalescent as soap bubbles.”

  60. Thin as phantoms —Thomas Hardy
  61. (Her face, without make-up, was an oval of white that looked as) thin as porcelain —Paul Theroux
  62. [TV antennas] thin as skeletons —Italo Calvino
  63. Thin as tapers —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  64. Thin as the edge of the moon —Stephen Vincent Benét
  65. Thin as the girl who didn’t have enough to her to itch —Anon
  66. Thin as the girl who swallowed the pit of an olive and was rushed to a maternity ward —Anon
  67. Thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death —Abraham Lincoln, October 13, 1852 speech
  68. Thin as the line between self-confidence and conceit —Anon
  69. Thin as the skin seaming a scar —Sylvia Plath
  70. Thin as tissue —H. E. Bates
  71. (Skin) thin as tracing paper —John Updike
  72. Thin … like a skeleton —Ann Petry
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The following words can all be used to describe someone who has very little flesh on their body:

1. neutral words

Thin is used to describe someone's appearance in a neutral way.

She was tall and thin, with fairish hair.
2. words used for approval

Lean, slender, slim, slight, spare, and trim are all used to show approval of someone's appearance. Slim is the commonest of these words. The others are used mainly in stories.

She used to be pretty and slim.
The door sprang open and a lean, well-tailored man stepped out.
...a beautiful slender girl with a strong American accent.
3. words used for disapproval

Bony, scrawny, and skinny are used to show disapproval.

She was rather ugly and skinny.
...a scrawny woman with dyed black hair.

If you say that someone is underweight, you mean that they are too thin, because they have not eaten enough or are ill. When they are very thin indeed, you can say that they are emaciated.

Many people who are underweight are happy with their size.
...emaciated kids begging for milk.
4. 'lanky' and 'willowy'

Lanky and willowy are used to say that someone is tall and thin. Lanky is a slightly humorous word. Willowy is used to show approval.

Quentin was a lanky boy with long skinny legs.
...looking so much more slender and willowy than in her photo.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.thinness - relatively small dimension through an object as opposed to its length or width; "the tenuity of a hair"; "the thinness of a rope"
dimension - the magnitude of something in a particular direction (especially length or width or height)
thickness - the dimension through an object as opposed to its length or width
2.thinness - the property of having little body fat
bodily property - an attribute of the body
scrawniness, skinniness - the bodily property of lacking flesh
boniness, bonyness, emaciation, gauntness, maceration - extreme leanness (usually caused by starvation or disease)
slimness, slenderness, slightness - the property of an attractively thin person
wiriness - the property of being lean and tough and sinewy
3.thinness - the property of being very narrow or thin; "he marvelled at the fineness of her hair"
narrowness - the property of being narrow; having little width; "the narrowness of the road"
4.thinness - the property of being scanty or scattered; lacking denseness
exiguity, leanness, meagerness, meagreness, scantiness, scantness, poorness - the quality of being meager; "an exiguity of cloth that would only allow of miniature capes"-George Eliot
5.thinness - a consistency of low viscosity; "he disliked the thinness of the soup"
consistency, eubstance, consistence, body - the property of holding together and retaining its shape; "wool has more body than rayon"; "when the dough has enough consistency it is ready to bake"
fluidity, fluidness, runniness, liquidity, liquidness - the property of flowing easily; "adding lead makes the alloy easier to cast because the melting point is reduced and the fluidity is increased"; "they believe that fluidity increases as the water gets warmer"
wateriness - the property of resembling the viscosity of water
thickness - resistance to flow
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
نَحافَه، نَحالَه
òynnka, òunnleiki


[ˈθɪnnɪs] N
1. [of person, arms, face] → delgadez f; [of animal] → flacura f
2. [of layer, sheet, wall] → delgadez f; [of slice, line] → lo fino; [of fabric] → finura f
3. [of liquid, sauce, paint] → poco espesor m
4. [of excuse, argument] → pobreza f
5. [of air, atmosphere] → lo enrarecido
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈθɪnnɪs] n
[layer, slice] → finesse f; [fingers, face] → maigreur f
[person, animal] → maigreur f
[fabric, coat, blouse, paper] → finesse fthin-skinned [ˌθɪnˈskɪnd] adj [person] → susceptible
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


Dünnheit f, → Dünnigkeit f; (of dress, material)Leichtheit f; (of liquid)Dünnflüssigkeit f; (of paper, line, thread)Feinheit f; (of column of print)geringe Breite
(of person)Magerkeit f
(= sparseness) the thinness of his hairsein schütterer or spärlicher Haarwuchs; the thinness of the grassdas spärlich wachsende Gras
(= lack of density: of air) → Dünnheit f
(fig, of voice, smile) → Schwachheit f; (of excuse, disguise, plot)Dürftigkeit f; (of trading)Schlaffheit f; (of profits)geringe Höhe; (of majority)Knappheit f ? thin
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈθɪnnɪs] n (gen) → sottigliezza; (of person) → magrezza; (of hair) → radezza; (of soup) → eccessiva liquidità; (of excuse) → debolezza
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(θin) adjective
1. having a short distance between opposite sides. thin paper; The walls of these houses are too thin.
2. (of people or animals) not fat. She looks thin since her illness.
3. (of liquids, mixtures etc) not containing any solid matter; rather lacking in taste; (tasting as if) containing a lot of water or too much water. thin soup.
4. not set closely together; not dense or crowded. His hair is getting rather thin.
5. not convincing or believable. a thin excuse.
verbpast tense, past participle thinned
to make or become thin or thinner. The crowd thinned after the parade was over.
ˈthinly adverb
ˈthinness noun
thin air
nowhere. He disappeared into thin air.
ˌthin-ˈskinned adjective
sensitive; easily hurt or upset. Be careful what you say – she's very thin-skinned.
thin out
to make or become less dense or crowded. The trees thinned out near the river.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
But this, his thinness, so to speak, seemed no more the token of wasting anxieties and cares, than it seemed the indication of any bodily blight.
In the first place his red beard, ragged and untrimmed, hid much of his face, and his hair was long; but the most surprising change in him was his extreme thinness. It made his great nose protrude more arrogantly; it emphasized his cheekbones; it made his eyes seem larger.
But sometimes she was suddenly overcome by fear not only of death but of sickness, weakness, and loss of good looks, and involuntarily she examined her bare arm carefully, surprised at its thinness, and in the morning noticed her drawn and, as it seemed to her, piteous face in her glass.
Considering how flexible thin wax is, I do not see that there is any difficulty in the bees, whilst at work on the two sides of a strip of wax, perceiving when they have gnawed the wax away to the proper thinness, and then stopping their work.
She was uplifted by a sudden feeling that he looked quite beautiful in spite of his thinness. He fixed his eyes on Ben Weatherstaff in his funny imperious way.
After being beaten in the manner I have described, the material soon becomes blended in one mass, which, moistened occasionally with water, is at intervals hammered out, by a kind of gold-beating process, to any degree of thinness required.
He did not think her pretty; he hated the thinness of her, only that evening he had noticed how the bones of her chest stood out in evening-dress; he went over her features one by one; he did not like her mouth, and the unhealthiness of her colour vaguely repelled him.
Darya Alexandrovna, in a dressing jacket, and with her now scanty, once luxuriant and beautiful hair fastened up with hairpins on the nape of her neck, with a sunken, thin face and large, startled eyes, which looked prominent from the thinness of her face, was standing among a litter of all sorts of things scattered all over the room, before an open bureau, from which she was taking something.
The layer is of extreme thinness; and on analysis by Berzelius it was found to consist of the oxides of manganese and iron.
At some time or other the fog thinned a little; we did not know when, for we were facing the empty universe and the thinness could not show; but at last Harris happened to look around, and there stood a huge, dim, spectral hotel where the precipice had been.
Her thinness seemed to be the effect of some wasting fire within her, which found a vent in her gaunt eyes.
The youth could see that the soles of his shoes had been worn to the thinness of writing paper, and from a great rent in one the dead foot projected piteously.