skim Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a thin layer covering the surface of a liquid
    • there was a thin skim of oil on the water
  2. noun reading or glancing through quickly
  3. verb travel on the surface of water
  4. verb move or pass swiftly and lightly over the surface of
    skim over.
  5. verb examine hastily
    glance over; rake; run down; scan.
    • She scanned the newspaper headlines while waiting for the taxi
  6. verb cause to skip over a surface
    skip; skitter.
    • Skip a stone across the pond
  7. verb coat (a liquid) with a layer
  8. verb remove from the surface
    cream off; skim off; cream.
    • skim cream from the surface of milk
  9. verb read superficially
    skim over.
  10. adjective satellite used of milk and milk products from which the cream has been removed
    • yogurt made with skim milk
    • she can drink skimmed milk but should avoid butter


Skim transitive verb
Cf. Sw. skymma to darken. See Scum.
imperfect & past participle Skimmed ; present participle & verbal noun Skimming
  1. To clear (a liquid) from scum or substance floating or lying thereon, by means of a utensil that passes just beneath the surface; as, to skim milk; to skim broth.
  2. To take off by skimming; as, to skim cream.
  3. To pass near the surface of; to brush the surface of; to glide swiftly along the surface of.
    Homer describes Mercury as flinging himself from the top of Olympus, and skimming the surface of the ocean. Hazlitt.
  4. Fig.: To read or examine superficially and rapidly, in order to cull the principal facts or thoughts; as, to skim a book or a newspaper.
Skim intransitive verb
  1. To pass lightly; to glide along in an even, smooth course; to glide along near the surface.
    Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main. Pope.
  2. To hasten along with superficial attention.
    They skim over a science in a very superficial survey. I. Watts.
  3. To put on the finishing coat of plaster.
Skim adjective
  1. Contraction of Skimming and Skimmed.

Webster 1913