1. a person or thing that damps or depresses: His glum mood put a damper on their party.
  2. a movable plate for regulating the draft in a stove, furnace, etc.
  3. Music.
    1. a device in stringed keyboard instruments to deaden the vibration of the strings.
    2. the mute of a brass instrument, as a horn.
  4. Electricity. an attachment to keep the indicator of a measuring instrument from oscillating excessively, as a set of vanes in a fluid or a short-circuited winding in a magnetic field.
  5. Machinery. a shock absorber.
  6. Australian.
    1. a round, flat cake made of flour and water, and cooked over a campfire.
    2. the dough for such cakes.

adjective, damp·er, damp·est.

  1. slightly wet; moist: damp weather; a damp towel.
  2. unenthusiastic; dejected; depressed: The welcoming committee gave them a rather damp reception.


  1. moisture; humidity; moist air: damp that goes through your warmest clothes.
  2. a noxious or stifling vapor or gas, especially in a mine.
  3. depression of spirits; dejection.
  4. a restraining or discouraging force or factor.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make damp; moisten.
  2. to check or retard the energy, action, etc., of; deaden; dampen: A series of failures damped her enthusiasm.
  3. to stifle or suffocate; extinguish: to damp a furnace.
  4. Acoustics, Music. to check or retard the action of (a vibrating string); dull; deaden.
  5. Physics. to cause a decrease in amplitude of (successive oscillations or waves).

Verb Phrases

  1. damp off, to undergo damping-off.


  1. a person, event, or circumstance that depresses or discourages
  2. put a damper on to produce a depressing or inhibiting effect onthe bad news put a damper on the party
  3. a movable plate to regulate the draught in a stove or furnace flue
  4. a device to reduce electronic, mechanical, acoustic, or aerodynamic oscillations in a system
  5. music the pad in a piano or harpsichord that deadens the vibration of each string as its key is released
  6. mainly Australian and NZ any of various unleavened loaves and scones, typically cooked on an open fire


  1. slightly wet, as from dew, steam, etc
  2. archaic dejected


  1. slight wetness; moisture; humidity
  2. rank air or poisonous gas, esp in a mineSee also firedamp
  3. a discouragement; damper
  4. archaic dejection

verb (tr)

  1. to make slightly wet
  2. (often foll by down) to stifle or deadento damp one’s ardour
  3. (often foll by down) to reduce the flow of air to (a fire) to make it burn more slowly or to extinguish it
  4. physics to reduce the amplitude of (an oscillation or wave)
  5. music to muffle (the sound of an instrument)

of a piano, 1783; of a chimney, 1788; agent noun from damp (v.). Either or both led to various figurative senses.


late 14c., “to suffocate,” from damp (n.). Figurative meaning “to deaden (the spirits, etc.)” attested by 1540s. Meaning “to moisten” is recorded from 1670s. Related: Damped; damping.


1580s, “dazed,” from damp (n.). Meaning “slightly wet” is from 1706. Related: Dampness.


early 14c., “a noxious vapor,” perhaps in Old English but there is no record of it. If not, probably from Middle Low German damp; ultimately in either case from Proto-Germanic *dampaz (cf. Old High German damph, German Dampf “vapor;” Old Norse dampi “dust”). Sense of “moisture, humidity” is first certainly attested 1706.

see put a damper on.

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