Meaning of dwarf in English:


Pronunciation /dwɔːf/

See synonyms for dwarf

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nounplural noun dwarfs, plural noun dwarves/dwɔːvz/

  • 1(in folklore or fantasy literature) a member of a mythical race of short, stocky humanlike creatures who are generally skilled in mining and metalworking.

    ‘It is set in the world of the traditional fairy tale, with a cast of elves, dwarves, trolls and goblins as well as hobbits and humans.’
    • ‘Over the rolling plains of Edelwilde walk giants, dwarfs, elves, fairies and many other creatures unknown to the rest of the world.’
    • ‘One was a dwarf: short and stocky, with a beard that reached to his waist.’
    • ‘For those of you unfamiliar with J.R.R. Tolkien, prepare to enter a land where humans share the earth with goblins, trolls, elves, dwarves, dragons and, of course, hobbits.’
    • ‘They would tease each other about their race, even though both the elves and dragons were superior races, compared to dwarves, trolls, and fairies.’
    • ‘He didn't know what the aliens called themselves, but they were short and stocky of stature, much like the dwarfs of folklore.’
    • ‘The third voyage involves confrontations with a race of wicked dwarfs and a Cyclops-like giant who reminds us of Homer's Polyphemus.’
    • ‘Dragons, elves, humans, dwarves, drakes and gnomes alike all were celebrating in the streets of the dragon mountain city.’
    • ‘In our cultural tradition dwarfs belong to the mythic world, not the mundane world of our daily experience or reality.’
    • ‘It touches us in that part of of our minds where we fill the aching gap between us and the rest of nature with dwarfs and giants, elves and hobbits.’
    • ‘Using his momentum, and short stature, the dwarf rammed his head into the elves stomach before it could strike with its sword.’
    • ‘The Chuyachaqui is a mythical dwarf with one human foot and one hoof.’
    • ‘They were far too strong, far too wise, and far too evil to be stopped by men, elves, trolls and dwarves alone.’
    • ‘There is certainly room for a literal interpretation that portrays Wagner's gods, giants, dwarfs, and heroes as the Nordic myth and the libretto describe them.’
    • ‘As a race, dwarves were probably the finest engineers ever born - certainly their people took the deepest pleasure in working with earth and stone and iron, for it was in their blood.’
    • ‘The elves considered themselves superior to the other two known races, humans and dwarves, and never would have told them what they knew, unless it was a dire emergency.’
    • ‘The dwarves are very skilled warriors and craftsmen.’
    • ‘They raced past startled dwarves and overturned carts filled to the brim with glittering diamonds as the rushed deeper into the mountain.’
    • ‘Up ahead, sat two large doors set into the stone with two short dwarves guarding them.’
    • ‘The halfling was even shorter than the dwarf he was talking to, but he didn't seem to notice.’
    gnome, goblin, hobgoblin, troll, imp, elf, brownie, kelpie, leprechaun, fairy, pixie, sprite
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  • 2often offensive A person who is of unusually short stature on account of a genetic or medical condition such as achondroplasia; a person affected by dwarfism.

  • 3

    (also dwarf star)
    A star of relatively small size and low luminosity, including the majority of main sequence stars.

    ‘The new planet was detected orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 876, which is about one third as massive as our Sun.’
    • ‘The stellar wind from the red dwarf star removes the dust in the debris disk by causing the dust to slowly spiral into the star.’
    • ‘The planet orbits the M class red dwarf star Gliese 436, located only 33 light years away, in our own galactic neighborhood.’
    • ‘Astronomical photographs of the familiar planets of our old solar system perpetrate a comfortable lie: planets are giant round spheres that follow predictable Keplerian orbits around a common yellow dwarf star.’
    • ‘So the coolest, dimmest dwarfs represent the remnants of the oldest stars.’


  • Denoting something, especially an animal or plant, that is much smaller than the usual size for its type or species.

    ‘a dwarf conifer’
    • ‘Evergreen plants, including dwarf conifers such as hemlocks, junipers, pines, and spruces, can form a backbone to anchor the design of a rock garden.’
    • ‘Coastal heathlands are dominated by early successional species such as dwarf shrubs and grasses, and support many rare and endemic species.’
    • ‘Many conifer trees species have dwarf varieties available.’
    • ‘They look great planted with dwarf conifers, especially when a variety of shapes, colors and textures are used.’
    • ‘Planted with a southern aspect to take advantage of the low arc of the winter sun, it has trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants and dwarf bulbs.’
    • ‘In the dwarf shrub species that were studied, ozone increased the size but not the number of plastoglobuli under summer conditions.’
    • ‘There is little doubt that the animals they found were a dwarf species - not small or deformed individuals of a larger species.’
    • ‘For the most pleasure, plant dwarf sweet box near a doorway or window.’
    • ‘Even the slowest growing of trees eventually reach a large size - only truly dwarf conifers will remain small.’
    • ‘I found an overgrown running track with interesting succulent plants and dwarf tamarisk bushes.’
    • ‘There is a larger than average paved patio, raised beds with perennial and herbaceous border plants as well as dwarf trees.’
    • ‘I would like to obtain dwarf fruit plants such as papayas of Thai origin, mangoes and strawberries.’
    • ‘On islands, including Flores, dwarf forms of large animals and giant forms of small ones are common.’
    • ‘Coming out of the forest onto the southern slopes of the hill was a herd of Yellowhorn, a species of dwarf deer common west of the mountains.’
    • ‘The older Flores tools were found among remains of dwarf elephants, Komodo dragons, rats, and other animals, according to the paper.’
    • ‘Now, a scientist believes male dwarf minke whales may make a sci-fi sound to attract females.’
    • ‘Researchers found 11 different specimens of these dwarf sauropods, both adults and juveniles, in Germany.’
    • ‘The boat conducts dwarf minke whale research in addition to a ‘swim with whales’ program for tourists.’
    • ‘Scientists have unearthed the bones of a human dwarf species in Indonesia that existed as recently as 18,000 years ago.’
    • ‘Pushing the frontier of recombinant DNA technology, Nexia's scientists have inserted DNA from spiders into a breed of African dwarf goats.’
    miniature, small, little, tiny, minute, toy, pocket, diminutive, baby, pygmy, stunted, undersized, undersize, small-scale, scaled-down, fun-size
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[with object]
  • 1Cause to seem small or insignificant in comparison.

    ‘the buildings surround and dwarf All Saints church’
    • ‘The new design does not even remotely fit in with the rest of the area and will, as you can see, dwarf the other surrounding buildings.’
    • ‘In comparison the earth is dwarfed by mighty Jupiter, so the presence of Ganymede is not really that unusual.’
    • ‘The ship seemed tiny and insignificant now, dwarfed by the great tower of the Pharos lighthouse.’
    • ‘The big, scary experiences always seem to dwarf the good ones, for me at least.’
    • ‘This is because the amount of savings income you can get is almost always dwarfed by interest rates you pay on your debts.’
    • ‘The effects that electric and magnetic fields have on matter almost always dwarf the effects of gravity.’
    • ‘His church, though not particularly small, is dwarfed by the UN buildings.’
    • ‘The bonfire which was lit on the beach that evening was dwarfed into insignificance by the reflection it threw out over the water.’
    • ‘Another photograph has a chrome-and-glass building, dwarfing an old structure with traditional architecture and red brick walls.’
    • ‘They would be dwarfed by the resort-style building which could emerge in the city centre.’
    • ‘If given the go-ahead, either of the two blocks would dwarf any existing building in Ireland.’
    • ‘The consumption of the previous evening, prodigious by any standards, was exceeded nay, dwarfed by that which was to follow.’
    • ‘It's always the sporting personality who seems to dwarf the political personality.’
    • ‘As a painter he is best known for dramatic and sinister architectural views, with figures dwarfed by their gloomy surroundings.’
    • ‘The panther reached a tree so ancient it dwarfed the surrounding trees to mere saplings.’
    • ‘It dwarfs all the other buildings in the area and exudes an air of bureaucratic intransigence and implacable arrogance.’
    • ‘The total payouts to pensioners exceeded $3 billion, dwarfing the $1.5 billion in premiums collected from companies insured under the program.’
    • ‘From that perch, one's picture of the cosmos grows to galactic proportions, dwarfing any prior world view and yielding a perspective transcendent beyond imagination.’
    • ‘As we predicted last week, the 5 million state workers benefiting from a gold-plated, salary-linked pension now dwarfs the 3.6 million private industry employees who will get the same benefits.’
    • ‘The more striking graphics can be seen with the summoned titans, whose immense size dwarfs buildings and other units.’
    dominate, tower above, tower over, loom over, overlook, overshadow, overtop
    overshadow, outshine, put in the shade, surpass, exceed, outclass, outstrip, outdo, top, cap, trump, transcend
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    1. 1.1Stunt the growth or development of.
      ‘the insurance industry is still battling with a number of challenges that have dwarfed its growth’
      • ‘The anatomy of the graft tissue between a rootstock and its shoot can provide a mechanistic explanation of the way dwarfing Malus rootstocks reduce shoot growth.’
      • ‘The two independent, recessive dwarfing genes produced four distinct seedling growth habits in field trials.’
      • ‘Without proper DNA methylation, higher organisms from plants to humans have a host of developmental problems, from dwarfing in plants to tumor development in humans to certain death in mice.’
      • ‘Interstocks are used to induce a specific plant development response (e.g. dwarfing, overcome graft incompatibility).’
      • ‘It is the art of dwarfing trees or plants and developing them into aesthetically appealing shapes.’
      • ‘The calculated hydraulic conductivity of the graft tissue was found to be lower for grafted trees on dwarfing rootstocks compared to invigorating rootstocks.’
      • ‘Plant height at maturity and dwarfing genes of parents, comparative controls and DHLs used in experiments 1 and 2’


Old English dweorg, dweorh, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dwerg and German Zwerg.