verb (used with object)

  1. to make or cause to seem smaller, less, less important, etc.; lessen; reduce.
  2. Architecture. to give (a column) a form tapering inward from bottom to top.
  3. Music. to make (an interval) smaller by a chromatic half step than the corresponding perfect or minor interval.
  4. to detract from the authority, honor, stature, or reputation of; disparage.

verb (used without object)

  1. to lessen; decrease.


  1. to make or become smaller, fewer, or less
  2. (tr) architect to cause (a column, etc) to taper
  3. (tr) music to decrease (a minor or perfect interval) by a semitone
  4. to belittle or be belittled; reduce in authority, status, etc; depreciate

early 15c., from merger of two obsolete verbs, diminue and minish. Diminue is from Old French diminuer “make small,” from Latin diminuere “break into small pieces,” variant of deminuere “lessen, diminish,” from de- “completely” + minuere “make small” (see minus).

Minish is from Old French menuisier, from Latin minuere. Related: Diminished; diminishes; diminishing.

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