Formed under the influence of both diminue (from Old French diminuer, from Latin dīminuo) and minish.


  • IPA(key): /dɪˈmɪnɪʃ/
  • (file)


diminish (third-person singular simple present diminishes, present participle diminishing, simple past and past participle diminished)

  1. (transitive) To make smaller.
  2. (intransitive) To become smaller.
    • 2013 July 20, “Old soldiers?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Whether modern, industrial man is less or more warlike than his hunter-gatherer ancestors is impossible to determine. [] One thing that is true, though, is that murder rates have fallen over the centuries, as policing has spread and the routine carrying of weapons has diminished. Modern society may not have done anything about war. But peace is a lot more peaceful.
  3. (transitive) To lessen the authority or dignity of; to put down; to degrade; to abase; to weaken; to nerf (in gaming).
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Ezekiel 29:15,[1]
      It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.
    • 1639, Ralph Robinson (translator), Utopia by Thomas More, London, Book 2, “Of their journying or travelling abroad,” p. 197,[2]
      [] this doth nothing diminish their opinion.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 4, lines 32-35,[3]
      O thou, that, with surpassing glory crowned,
      Lookest from thy sole dominion like the God
      Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars
      Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call,
    • 1961, V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas, London: André Deutsch, Chapter 3,
      In Seth’s presence Mr Biswas felt diminished. Everything about Seth was overpowering: his calm manner, his smooth grey hair, his ivory holder, his hard swollen forearms []
  4. (intransitive) To taper.
    • 1853, Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford, London: J.M. Dent, 1904, Chapter 8, p. 120,[4]
      The chair and table legs diminished as they neared the ground, and were straight and square in all their corners.
  5. (intransitive) To disappear gradually.
    • 1948, Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter, Penguin, 1971, Part Two, Chapter 2, 1, p. 77,[5]
      ‘Good evening, good evening,’ Father Rank called. His stride lengthened and he caught a foot in his soutane and stumbled as he went by. ‘A storm’s coming up,’ he said. ‘Got to hurry,’ and his ‘ho, ho, ho’ diminished mournfully along the railway track, bringing no comfort to anyone.
  6. (transitive) To take away; to subtract.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Deuteronomy 4:2,[6]
      Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.


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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.