Definition of thin adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//θɪn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//θɪn//
    (thinner, thinnest) Texture of food, Body shape
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    not thick
  1. 1  having a smaller distance between opposite sides or surfaces than other similar objects or than normal Cut the vegetables into thin strips. A number of thin cracks appeared in the wall. The body was hidden beneath a thin layer of soil. a thin blouse (= of light cloth) see also paper-thin Which Word?narrow / thinThese adjectives are frequently used with the following nouns: narrow road/​entrance/​bed/​stairs/​majority/​victory/​range thin man/​legs/​ice/​line/​layer/​material/​cream Narrow describes something that is a short distance from side to side. Thin describes people, or something that has a short distance through it from one side to the other. Thin is also used of things that are not as thick as you expect. Narrow can be used with the meanings ‘only just achieved’ and ‘limited’.
  2. not fat
  3. 2  (sometimes disapproving) (of a person or part of the body) not covered with much flesh He was tall and thin, with dark hair. She was looking pale and thin. He is as thin as a rake (= very thin). thin legs Vocabulary BuildingSaying that somebody is thinThin is the most usual word:Steve is tall and thin and has brown hair. It is sometimes used with a negative meaning:Mother looked thin and tired after her long illness.The following words all express praise or admiration: Slim means pleasantly thin. It is often used to describe women who have controlled their weight by diet or exercise:She has a beautifully slim figure. A slender girl or woman is thin and graceful. A lean man is thin and fit. Willowy describes a woman who is attractively tall and thin.The following words are more negative in their meaning: Skinny means very thin, often in a way that is not attractive:a skinny little kid. Bony describes parts of the body when they are so thin that the bones can be seen:the old man’s bony hands. Scrawny suggests that a person is thin, weak and not attractive:a scrawny old woman. Gaunt describes a person who is a little too thin and looks sad or ill. Underweight is used in medical contexts to describe people who are too thin because they are ill or have not had enough food:Women who smoke risk giving birth to underweight babies. Emaciated describes a serious condition resulting from illness or lack of food. Anorexic is a medical term, but is now also used informally to describe a girl or woman who is so thin that you are worried about them.It is more acceptable to talk to somebody about how thin or slim they are than about how fat they are. note at fat See related entries: Body shape
  4. hair
  5. 3  not growing closely together or in large amounts thin grey hair
  6. liquid
  7. 4  containing more liquid than is normal or expected synonym runny The sauce was thin and tasteless. See related entries: Texture of food
  8. smoke
  9. 5fairly easy to see through They fought their way through where the smoke was thinner.
  10. air
  11. 6containing less oxygen than normal Humans would not be able to survive in the thin atmosphere of the planet.
  12. sound
  13. 7(disapproving) high and weak Her thin voice trailed off into silence.
  14. smile
  15. 8not sincere or enthusiastic He gave a thin smile.
  16. light
  17. 9not very bright the thin grey light of dawn
  18. poor quality
  19. 10of poor quality; lacking an important quality a thin excuse (= one that people are not likely to believe) Their arguments all sound a little thin to me. The general standard of applicants is pretty thin this year.
  20. Word OriginOld English thynne, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dun and German dünn, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin tenuis.Extra examples He’s getting a little thin on top= losing his hair. His knowledge of the country was somewhat thin. His management team was stretched thin. How do you manage to stay so thin? Jobs were still a bit thin on the ground= not many were available. My patience is running thin. She’s tall and quite thin. That joke is wearing a little thin. The evidence seems awfully thin. The fabric was wearing thin. The old horse was painfully thin. The paint looks a bit thin. The team is dangerously thin at wide receiver. You can spread yourself too thin, often leading to poor choices. a plate of wafer-thin bread and butter a sliver of rock thin enough to be translucent He is as thin as a rake. She pinched her thin lips together. The wind blew cold through his thin shirt. narrow/​thin shoulders/​strips/​cracksIdioms
    be skating/walking on thin ice
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    to be taking a risk
    disappear, vanish, etc. into thin air
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    to disappear suddenly in a mysterious way She can’t just have vanished into thin air.
    have a thin time (of it)
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    (British English, informal) to have many problems or difficulties to deal with; to not be successful He’s had a thin time of it since losing his job.
    from nowhere or nothing, as if by magic Unfortunately, I can’t just conjure up the money out of thin air!
    spread yourself too thin
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    to try to do so many different things at the same time that you do not do any of them well
    thick/thin on the ground
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    (British English) if people or things are thick/thin on the ground, there are a lot/not many of them in a place Customers are thin on the ground at this time of year. Security officers were thick on the ground during the King’s visit.
    the thin end of the wedge
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    (especially British English) an event or action that is the beginning of something more serious and/or unpleasant The introduction of a tax on workplace parking is seen by many as the thin end of the wedge.
    (informal) without much hair on the head He's starting to get a little thin on top (= he's losing his hair). See related entries: Describing hair, Middle age the lack of ability to accept criticism, insults, etc. without becoming upset synonym sensitive You shouldn’t be in politics if you have such a thin skin. opposite a thick skin see also thin-skinned even when there are problems or difficulties He's supported the team for over ten years through thick and thin. In marriage, you have to stick together through thick and thin. More Like This Alliteration in idioms belt and braces, black and blue, born and bred, chalk and cheese, chop and change, done and dusted, down and dirty, in dribs and drabs, eat somebody out of house and home, facts and figures, fast and furious, first and foremost, forgive and forget, hale and hearty, hem and haw, kith and kin, mix and match, part and parcel, puff and pant, to rack and ruin, rant and rave, risk life and limb, short and sweet, signed and sealed, spic and span, through thick and thin, this and that, top and tail, tried and tested, wax and waneSee worksheet.
    walk/tread a fine/thin line
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    to be in a difficult or dangerous situation where you could easily make a mistake He was walking a fine line between being funny and being rude.
    to begin to become weaker or less acceptable These excuses are wearing a little thin (= because we've heard them so many times before). My patience is beginning to wear very thin.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: thin