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Frequentative form of dwine, from Middle English dwinen, from Old English dwīnan (to waste away), itself from Proto-Germanic *dwīnaną. It is equivalent to dwine +‎ -le, akin to Old Norse dvena,[1] dvína,[2][3] Dutch verdwijnen (to disappear, dwindle).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈdwɪn.dəl/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪndəl


dwindle (third-person singular simple present dwindles, present participle dwindling, simple past and past participle dwindled)

  1. (intransitive) To decrease, shrink, diminish, reduce in size or intensity.
    Synonyms: peter out, (figuratively) spin down, trail off
    • 1802, T. Paynell (translator), Erasmus, The Complaint of Peace
      [E]very thing that was improving gradually degenerates and dwindles away to nothing, []
  2. (intransitive, figurative) To fall away in quality; degenerate, sink.
    • c. 1606 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene iii], page 132, column 1:
      VVearie Seu'nights, nine times nine, / Shall he dvvindle, peake, and pine: []
    • 1709, [Jonathan Swift], A Project for the Advancement of Religion, and the Reformation of Manners. [], London: [] Benj[amin] Tooke, [], →OCLC, page 44:
      Religious Societies, though begun with excellent Intention, and by Perſons of true Piety, have dwindled into factious Clubs; []
    • 1766, [Oliver Goldsmith], chapter III, in The Vicar of Wakefield: [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), Salisbury, Wiltshire: [] B. Collins, for F[rancis] Newbery, [], →OCLC; reprinted London: Elliot Stock, 1885, →OCLC:
      The flattery of his friends began to dwindle into simple approbation.
    • 1919, Boris Sidis, The Source and Aim of Human Progress:
      The larger the empire, the more dwindles the mind of the citizen.
    • 2014 September 26, Charles Quest-Ritson, “The Dutch garden where tulip bulbs live forever: Hortus Bulborum, a volunteer-run Dutch garden, is dedicated to conserving historic varieties before they vanish for good [print version: Inspired by a living bulb archive, 27 September 2014, p. G5]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Gardening)[1]:
      [I]nfected tulips are weakened by the viruses that cause the very patterns and swirls that fascinated horticulturists and investors in the first place. Such bulbs tend to dwindle away instead of fattening up and producing offsets.
  3. (transitive) To lessen; to bring low.
  4. To break up or disperse.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Dictionary entry of the alternative spelling
  2. ^ dwindle”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.: "akin to ... Icel. dvína to cease"
  3. ^ dwindle in Merriam Webster's dictionary : "akin to Old Norse dvīna to pine away"