Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Slightly wet. See Synonyms at wet.
  • adj. Archaic Dejected.
  • n. Moisture in the air; humidity.
  • n. Foul or poisonous gas that sometimes pollutes the air in coal mines.
  • n. Lowness of spirits; depression.
  • n. A restraint or check; a discouragement.
  • transitive v. To make damp or moist; moisten.
  • transitive v. To extinguish (a fire, for example) by cutting off air.
  • transitive v. To restrain or check; discourage.
  • transitive v. Music To slow or stop the vibrations of (the strings of a keyboard instrument) with a damper.
  • transitive v. Physics To decrease the amplitude of (an oscillating system).
  • damp off Botany To be affected by damping off.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Being in a state between dry and wet; moderately wet; moist.
  • adj. Pertaining to or affected by noxious vapours; dejected, stupified.
  • n. Moisture; humidity; dampness.
  • n. Fog; fogginess; vapor.
  • n. Dejection or depression.
  • n. A gaseous product, formed in coal mines, old wells, pits, etc.
  • v. To dampen; to render damp; to moisten; to make humid, or moderately wet; as, to damp cloth.
  • v. To put out, as fire; to depress or deject; to deaden; to cloud; to check or restrain, as action or vigor; to make dull; to weaken; to discourage.
  • v. To suppress vibrations (mechanical) or oscillations (electrical) by converting energy to heat (or some other form of energy).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Being in a state between dry and wet; moderately wet; moist; humid.
  • adj. Dejected; depressed; sunk.
  • n. Moisture; humidity; fog; fogginess; vapor.
  • n. Dejection; depression; cloud of the mind.
  • n. A gaseous product, formed in coal mines, old wells, pints, etc.
  • intransitive v. To render damp; to moisten; to make humid, or moderately wet; to dampen.
  • intransitive v. To put out, as fire; to depress or deject; to deaden; to cloud; to check or restrain, as action or vigor; to make dull; to weaken; to discourage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Moist; humid; moderately wet: as, a damp cloth; damp air.
  • Clammy.
  • Dejected; depressed.
  • Synonyms Humid, Dank, etc. See moist.
  • To moisten; make humid or moderately wet; dampen.
  • To extinguish; smother; suffocate.
  • To suffocate with damp or foul air in a mine. [Eng.]
  • To check or retard the force or action of: as, to damp a fire by covering it with ashes; especially, to diminish the range or amplitude of vibrations in, as a piano-string, by causing a resistance to the motions of the vibrating body.
  • To make dull or weak and indistinct, as a sound or a light; obscure; deaden.
  • To depress; deject; discourage; deaden; check; weaken.
  • Specifically To diminish or destroy the oscillation of (a metallic body in motion in a magnetic field).
  • [Dampen is now more common in the literal sense, and is sometimes used in the derived senses.]
  • Synonyms To moderate, allay, dispirit.
  • In horticulture, to rot or waste away, as the stems and leaves of seedlings and other tender plants, when the soil and atmosphere in which they are vegetating are too wet or cold: with off: as, flower-seedlings in hotbeds are especially liable to damp off.
  • n. Moist air; humidity; moisture.
  • n. A poisonous vapor; specifically, in mining, a stifling or poisonous gas. See black-damp, fire-damp.
  • n. A fog.
  • n. A check; a discouragement.
  • n. Depression of spirits; dejection.
  • n. The popular name of a disease which attacks young seedlings and succulent plants, causing them to rot off near the surface of the ground.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. deaden (a sound or noise), especially by wrapping
  • v. make vague or obscure or make (an image) less visible
  • v. lessen in force or effect
  • n. a slight wetness
  • v. restrain or discourage
  • adj. slightly wet

Etymologies

Middle English, poison gas, perhaps from Middle Dutch, vapor.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Akin to Low German damp, Dutch damp, and Danish damp ("vapor, steam, fog"), German Dampf, Icelandic dampi, Swedish damm ("dust"), and to German dampf imperative of dimpfen ("to smoke"). Also Old English dampen ("to choke, suffocate"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Soft rubber mounts were installed to 'damp' the machine's vibrations. Often the word 'dampen' is used incorrectly in this sense.

    April 19, 2009