Meaning of THIN in English


I. thin 1 S2 W2 /θɪn/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative thinner , superlative thinnest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ thinness , ↑ thinner ; adjective : ↑ thin , ↑ thinning ; verb : ↑ thin ; adverb : ↑ thinly ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: thynne ]

1 . NOT THICK if something is thin, there is only a small distance between its two opposite sides or surfaces OPP thick :

a thin gold chain

She’s only wearing a thin summer jacket (=a jacket made of light material) .

two thin slices of bread

The road was covered with a thin layer of ice.

The skin on the eyelids is the thinnest on the body.

paper/wafer thin (=very thin)

Keep your voice down – the walls are paper thin.

2 . NOT FAT having little fat on your body OPP fat :

He was tall and thin, with short brown hair.

thin arms/legs/lips etc

He has long thin hands.

Most high school girls say they want to be thinner.

3 . HAIR if someone has thin hair, they do not have a lot of hair:

a thin straggly beard

His hair is quite thin on top.

4 . LIQUID a liquid that is thin flows very easily because it has a lot of water in it OPP thick :

thin paint

5 . SMOKE/MIST smoke or mist that is thin is easy to see through OPP thick :

The fog is quite thin in places.

6 . AIR air that is thin is more difficult to breathe than usual because it has less ↑ oxygen in it:

the thinner air high in the mountains

7 . EXCUSE/ARGUMENT/EVIDENCE ETC a thin excuse, argument, or evidence is not good or detailed enough to be useful or effective:

Evidence that capital punishment deters crime is pretty thin.

8 . a thin margin/majority etc a very small number or amount of something:

Engle beat Blanchard by a razor-thin margin (=a very small number of votes) in the race for governor.

9 . SMILE a thin smile does not seem very happy or sincere:

Charlie gave her a thin smile.

10 . VOICE/SOUND a thin voice or sound is high and unpleasant to listen to:

His thin voice trailed off.

11 . the thin end of the wedge British English spoken an expression meaning something that you think is the beginning of a harmful development:

Workers believe the job cuts are just the thin end of the wedge.

12 . be thin on the ground if a particular type of person or thing is thin on the ground, there are very few available:

Taxis seem to be thin on the ground.

13 . be having a thin time (of it) British English spoken to be in a difficult situation, especially one in which you do not have enough money

14 . be (walking/treading/skating) on thin ice to be in a situation in which you are likely to upset someone or cause trouble:

I was on thin ice, and I knew it.

15 . disappear/vanish into thin air to disappear completely in a mysterious way:

Victor and his kidnappers had vanished into thin air.

16 . out of thin air out of nowhere, as if by magic:

It seems like researchers have just pulled the numbers out of thin air.


—thinness noun [uncountable]

• • •


■ person

▪ thin having little fat on your body:

a tall, thin man

▪ slim thin in an attractive way:

her slim figure


a slim woman in her fifties


Magazines are always full of advice about how to stay slim.

▪ slender written thin in an attractive and graceful way – used especially about parts of the body, and used especially about women:

her long, slender legs


She is slender, with very fair hair.

▪ lean thin and looking healthy and fit:

his lean body


He was lean and looked like a runner.

▪ skinny very thin in a way that is not attractive:

a skinny teenager


Your arms are so skinny!

▪ slight written thin and delicate:

a small, slight girl with big eyes

▪ scrawny /ˈskrɔːni $ ˈskrɒː-/ very thin, small, and weak-looking:

a scrawny kid in blue jeans

▪ underweight below the usual weight for someone of your height, and therefore too thin:

He had no appetite and remained underweight.

▪ gaunt /ɡɔːnt $ ɡɒːnt/ written very thin and pale, especially because of illness or continued worry:

He looked gaunt and had not shaved for days.

▪ emaciated /ɪˈmeɪʃieɪtəd, ɪˈmeɪʃieɪtɪd, -si-/ written extremely thin and weak, because you are ill or not getting enough to eat:

The tents were filled with emaciated refugees.

▪ skeletal written used about someone who is so thin that you can see the shape of their bones:

The soldiers were shocked by the skeletal figures of the camp’s prisoners.

▪ anorexic used about someone who is extremely thin because they have a mental illness that makes them stop eating:

Her daughter is anorexic.


anorexic teenagers

■ object/material

▪ thin not wide:

a thin slice of cake


a thin layer of ice


The gold was very thin.

▪ slim thin, especially in a way that looks attractive:

a slim volume of poetry


a slim mobile phone


a slim wooden box

▪ slender written tall or long and thin, in a way that looks attractive, but is often not very strong:

the slender columns that supported the roof


The spider was hanging by a slender thread.

▪ paper-thin/wafer-thin extremely thin, like paper:

The walls of the apartment were paper-thin.


wafer-thin slices of pastry


The petals are paper-thin.

II. thin 2 BrE AmE adverb

thinly. Many teachers think this is not correct English:

Don’t cut the bread so thin.

III. thin 3 BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle thinned , present participle thinning )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ thinness , ↑ thinner ; adjective : ↑ thin , ↑ thinning ; verb : ↑ thin ; adverb : ↑ thinly ]

1 . [intransitive and transitive] ( also thin out ) to become fewer in number, especially when there were many before, or to remove people, plants, or things so that fewer remain:

The crowd had thinned out and only a few people were left.

The trees thinned as we got closer to the top of the mountain.

Traffic was finally thinning.

Thin the carrots to two inches apart.

Her hair had been thinned and cut shorter.

2 . [intransitive and transitive] to make something thinner or to become thinner OPP thicken :

The clouds had begun to thin.

A narrow smile thinned his lips.

3 . [transitive] ( also thin down ) to make a liquid weaker by adding water or another liquid:

Thin the sauce by adding milk.

thin something with something

The pastels can be thinned with water.

4 . [intransitive] if someone’s hair is thinning, they have less hair than they used to:

a tall man with thinning hair

5 . thin the ranks if something thins the ranks of a group of people, there are fewer of them as a result of it:

Illness had thinned our ranks.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.