adj. damp·er, damp·est
1. Slightly wet: a damp sponge.
2. Humid: damp air.
3. Archaic Dejected; depressed.
a. Moisture in the air; humidity: Come in out of the damp.
b. Moisture that lies or has condensed on something: “I saw the damp lying on the bare hedges and spare grass” (Charles Dickens).
2. Foul or poisonous gas that sometimes pollutes the air in coal mines.
a. Lowness of spirits; depression: “An angry or sorrowful [countenance] throws a sudden damp upon me” (David Hume).
b. A restraint or check; a discouragement: “The issue of arms was so slow as to throw a great damp upon volunteering” (James Franck Bright).
tr.v. damped, damp·ing, dampsPhrasal Verb:
1. To make damp or moist; moisten.
2. To suppress or extinguish (a fire) by reducing or cutting off air.
3. To restrain or check: news that damped our enthusiasm.
4. Music To slow or stop the vibrations of (the strings of a keyboard instrument) with a damper.
5. Physics To decrease the amplitude of (an oscillating system).
To be affected by damping off.
[Middle English, poison gas, perhaps from Middle Dutch, vapor.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.