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From Middle English skemen, skymen, variants of scumen, from Old French escumer ‎(to remove scum), from escume ‎(froth, foam), from Frankish *skūm ‎(froth, foam), from Proto-Germanic *skūmaz ‎(foam), from Proto-Indo-European *skew- ‎(to cover, conceal). See scum.



skim ‎(third-person singular simple present skims, present participle skimming, simple past and past participle skimmed)

  1. (intransitive) To pass lightly; to glide along in an even, smooth course; to glide along near the surface.
    • Alexander Pope
      Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, / Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
  2. (transitive) To pass near the surface of; to brush the surface of; to glide swiftly along the surface of.
    • Hazlitt
      Homer describes Mercury as flinging himself from the top of Olympus, and skimming the surface of the ocean.
  3. To hasten along with superficial attention.
    • I. Watts
      They skim over a science in a very superficial survey.
  4. To put on a finishing coat of plaster.
  5. (transitive) to throw an object so it bounces on water (skimming stones)
  6. (intransitive) to ricochet
  7. (transitive) to read quickly, skipping some detail
    I skimmed the newspaper over breakfast.
  8. (transitive) to scrape off; to remove (something) from a surface
  9. (transitive) to clear (a liquid) from scum or substance floating or lying on it, by means of a utensil that passes just beneath the surface.
    to skim milk; to skim broth
  10. (transitive) to clear a liquid from (scum or substance floating or lying on it), especially the cream that floats on top of fresh milk
    to skim cream

Derived terms[edit]


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skim ‎(not comparable)

  1. (of milk) Having lowered fat content.

Derived terms[edit]