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Frequentative form of dwine, from Middle English dwinen, from Old English dwīnan (“to waste away”), equivalent to dwine + -le, akin to Old Norse dvena/dvína (Danish tvine (“to pine away”), Dutch verdwijnen (“to disappear, dwindle”).
- (intransitive) To decrease, shrink, diminish, reduce in size or intensity.
- (intransitive, figuratively) To fall away in quality; degenerate, sink.
- 1766, Oliver Goldsmith, Vicar, III
- 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):
- […] [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.
- (transitive) To lessen; to bring low.
- To break up or disperse.
- 1702–1704, Edward [Hyde, 1st] Earl of Clarendon, “(please specify |book=I to XVI)”, in The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, Begun in the Year 1641. […], Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed at the Theater, published 1707, OCLC 937919305:
- there were only five hundred foot and three hundred horse left with him , for the blocking of Plymouth ; the rest were dwindled away
(intransitive) to decrease, shrink, vanish