- thin (adj.)
- Old English þynne "narrow, lean, scanty, not dense; fluid, tenuous; weak, poor," from Proto-Germanic *thunni "thin" (cognates: West Frisian ten, Middle Low German dunne, Middle Dutch dunne, Dutch dun, Old High German dunni, German dünn, Old Norse þunnr, Swedish tunn, Danish tynd), from PIE *tnu- "stretched, stretched out" (hence "thin"), from root *ten- "to stretch" (cognates: Latin tenuis "thin, slender;" see tenet).
These our actors ... were all Spirits, and Are melted into Ayre, into thin Ayre. [Shakespeare, "The Tempest," IV.i.150, 1610]
"Loose or sparse," hence "easily seen through," with figurative extensions. Related: Thinly; thinness. Thin-skinned is attested from 1590s; the figurative sense of "touchy" is from 1670s.
- thin (v.)
- Old English þynnian "to make thin, lessen, dilute," also intransitive, "become thin," from thin (adj.). Intransitive sense of "to become less numerous" is attested from 1743; that of "to become thinner" is recorded from 1804. Compare similarly formed German dünnen, Dutch dunnen. Related: Thinned; thinning.