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From Middle English schimeren, from Old English sċymrian, sċimrian, sċimerian, from Proto-Germanic *skimarōną. Cognate with Dutch schemeren, German schimmern.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈʃɪm.ə(ɹ)/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈʃɪm.ɚ/
  • (file)


shimmer (third-person singular simple present shimmers, present participle shimmering, simple past and past participle shimmered)

  1. (intransitive) To shine tremulously or intermittently; to gleam faintly.
    Synonyms: twinkle, sparkle, glisten, glimmer
    • 1581, John Studley (translator), Medea, Act 4, in Seneca his Tenne Tragedies, London: Thomas Marsh, p. 135,[1]
      With dusky shimmering wanny globe, her lampe doth pale appeare
    • 1850, Alfred Tennyson, The Princess: A Medley, London: Edward Moxon, 3rd edition, Conclusion, p. 173,[2]
      The shimmering glimpses of a stream
    • 1954, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, New York: Ballantine Books, 1973, Book 2, Chapter 2, p. 339,[3]
      I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
    • 2018, Tsitsi Dangarembga, This Mournable Body, Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, Chapter 22,[4]
      Pale tourists, tired but excited, emerge like apparitions from the heat haze that shimmers over the tarmac.

Derived terms[edit]



shimmer (plural shimmers)

  1. A faint or veiled and tremulous gleam or shining.
    Synonym: glimmer
    • 1847 October 16, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], chapter 10, in Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. [], volume II, London: Smith, Elder, and Co., [], OCLC 3163777, page 254:
      I shut the closet, to conceal the strange, wraith-like apparel it contained; which, at this evening hour—nine o’clock—gave out certainly a most ghostly shimmer through the shadow of my apartment.
    • 1922, Katherine Anne Porter, “María Concepción” in Flowering Judas and Other Stories, New York: The Modern Library, 1940, p. 6,[5]
      The hives [] were scattered towards the back of the clearing, like small mounds of clean vegetable refuse. Over each mound there hung a dusty golden shimmer of bees.
    • 2013, Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers, New York: Vintage, 2014, Chapter 16, p. 294,[6]
      He’d aimed film lamps at the rectangular pools, which sent reflections up the gallery wall in veined and fractured shimmers.
  2. (signal processing) A measure of the irregularities in the loudness of a particular pitch over time.
    Coordinate term: jitter
    • 2010, Daniel R. Boone, The Voice and Voice Therapy, Pearson College Division (→ISBN)
      As such, perturbation measures can only be derived from vowels, most accurately, sustained vowels or steady-state portions of vowels extracted from connected speech. Two commonly obtained perturbation measures are jitter and shimmer.


Further reading[edit]



From Middle English schimeren, from Old English sċymrian, sċimrian, sċimerian.


shimmer (present participle shimmereen)

  1. to glitter


  • Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith