from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Slightly wet.
  • adjective Humid.
  • adjective Archaic Dejected; depressed.
  • noun Moisture in the air; humidity.
  • noun Moisture that lies or has condensed on something.
  • noun Foul or poisonous gas that sometimes pollutes the air in coal mines.
  • noun Lowness of spirits; depression.
  • noun A restraint or check; a discouragement.
  • transitive verb To make damp or moist; moisten.
  • transitive verb To suppress or extinguish (a fire) by reducing or cutting off air.
  • transitive verb To restrain or check; discourage.
  • transitive verb Music To slow or stop the vibrations of (the strings of a keyboard instrument) with a damper.
  • transitive verb Physics To decrease the amplitude of (an oscillating system).

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Moist air; humidity; moisture.
  • noun A poisonous vapor; specifically, in mining, a stifling or poisonous gas. See black-damp, fire-damp.
  • noun A fog.
  • noun A check; a discouragement.
  • noun Depression of spirits; dejection.
  • 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.
  • noun The popular name of a disease which attacks young seedlings and succulent plants, causing them to rot off near the surface of the ground.
  • Moist; humid; moderately wet: as, a damp cloth; damp air.
  • Clammy.
  • Dejected; depressed.
  • Synonyms Humid, Dank, etc. See moist.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Being in a state between dry and wet; moderately wet; moist; humid.
  • adjective rare Dejected; depressed; sunk.
  • intransitive verb To render damp; to moisten; to make humid, or moderately wet; to dampen.
  • intransitive verb 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.
  • noun Moisture; humidity; fog; fogginess; vapor.
  • noun Dejection; depression; cloud of the mind.
  • noun (Mining) A gaseous product, formed in coal mines, old wells, pints, etc.
  • noun a damp consisting principally of carbonic acid gas; -- so called from its extinguishing flame and animal life. See Carbonic acid, under Carbonic.
  • noun a curtain in a mine gallery to direct air currents and prevent accumulation of gas.
  • noun a damp consisting chiefly of light carbureted hydrogen; -- so called from its tendence to explode when mixed with atmospheric air and brought into contact with flame.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Being in a state between dry and wet; moderately wet; moist.
  • adjective obsolete Pertaining to or affected by noxious vapours; dejected, stupified.
  • noun Moisture; humidity; dampness.
  • noun archaic Fog; fogginess; vapor.


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

[Middle English, poison gas, perhaps from Middle Dutch, vapor.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").


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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

  • Julian now barefoot to ease his aching feet , felt the damp moss under his toes

    August 22, 2015