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Frequentative form of dwine, from Old English dwīnan (to waste away), equivalent to dwine +‎ -le, akin to Old Norse dvena[1]/dvína [2][3](Danish tvine (to pine away).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈdwɪn.dəl/
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  • 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.
    • 1802, T. Paynell (translator), Erasmus, The Complaint of Peace
      [E]very thing that was improving gradually degenerates and dwindles away to nothing, []
  2. (intransitive, figuratively) To fall away in quality; degenerate, sink.
    • (Can we date this quote by Goldsmith and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?), Vicar, III
      The flattery of his friends began to dwindle into simple approbation.
    • 1709, Jonathan Swift, A Project for the Advancement of Religion and the Reformation of Manners
      Religious societies, though begun with excellent intentions, are said to have dwindled into factious clubs.
    • 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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Thomson and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Our drooping days are dwindled down to naught.
  4. To break up or disperse.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Clarendon to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]



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