Definition of faint in English:



  • 1(of a sight, smell, or sound) barely perceptible.

    ‘the faint murmur of voices’
    • ‘Everywhere they look in the sky, they see a faint glow.’
    • ‘The only sound is the faint whisper of the air-conditioning.’
    • ‘I just lay there listening to the faint beat of his heart.’
    • ‘Even now, years later, with a little help from my imagination I can open up that suitcase and still smell their faint aroma.’
    • ‘A faint trace of wood smoke wisps through the air.’
    • ‘I strained my ears and was about to give up when the faint sound of a rumbling engine became perceptible.’
    • ‘Richard stayed silent, nothing stirred and he could hear his heart beating nervously and the faint crackle of the flames.’
    • ‘As they got closer Zoe could see faint outlines of buildings.’
    • ‘All of the marks on the sides are very faint.’
    • ‘I lie there listening for a few minutes and, just as I'm at the point of giving up and going back to sleep I hear it again - a faint noise, barely audible at all.’
    • ‘As I get closer, there's a faint gleam behind the stained-glass windows of the 13th-century abbey.’
    • ‘A faint rustling was heard close to where they were.’
    • ‘Last night on the evening air a faint whiff of garbage floated down the street making the heat even more unbearable.’
    • ‘There was just a faint scent of lavender and mothballs about her.’
    • ‘I could still detect the faint smell of bleach.’
    • ‘On a small, precarious headland the faint traces of a monastic cell can be seen.’
    • ‘He had short black hair and a very faint black moustache, a London accent and a thin build.’
    • ‘The sound was so faint untrained ears could have barely heard it.’
    • ‘l've been listening to the faint hum of London traffic and the random bangs and crackles of fireworks in nearby parks and gardens.’
    • ‘Bat calls have to be incredibly loud so that the faint echoes can to be detected.’
    quiet, muted, muffled, stifled, subdued
    indistinct, vague, unclear, indefinite, ill-defined, obscure, imperceptible, hardly noticeable, hardly detectable, unobtrusive
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    1. 1.1(of a hope, chance, or possibility) slight; remote.
      ‘there is a faint chance that the enemy may flee’
      • ‘I am therefore in the weeks ahead going to be putting up my old academic papers on Blogspot in the faint hope of introducing them to a wider audience.’
      • ‘I saw a faint glimmer of hope; a chance to derail the topic.’
      • ‘Only rain could have rescued the home side and a light cloud cover may have raised faint hopes of a miracle but it was all over after India had bowled just 12 balls.’
      • ‘And there's a touch of faint hope in Mr Ward's comment that the bank was considering appealing.’
      • ‘Is there a touch of faint hope in Mr Ward's comment that the bank was considering appealing?’
      • ‘Yes, on one hand he's accepting perhaps the reality, but also on the other hand, he's still trying to see if there is a faint hope he can hang on in there.’
      • ‘Reports last week suggested that there is now a faint hope of an end to these absurdities.’
      • ‘It was all going nowhere and we were clinging to the faint hope that Kildare might muster something.’
      • ‘He eked out his drinking water until Tuesday morning, waiting in the faint hope of being found.’
      • ‘I always have this faint hope that I might stumble across some great find at the flea market.’
      • ‘In short, the whole point of the pub is that you go to relax and talk to people in the faint hope that when you emerge, your mind feels unburdened.’
      • ‘So on Saturday I went to the Bayshore Winners with the faint hope they would carry the same merchandise.’
      • ‘His tenure closed with a win at Hampden, but it was a hollow victory as faint hopes of qualification for the next World Cup were extinguished.’
      • ‘Volunteers' title hopes took a blow when they lost 4-3 at home to Hounds, who still harbour faint hopes of the championship.’
      • ‘United desperately need to win at the Riverside Stadium to maintain their faint hopes of clawing their way back into the title race.’
      • ‘All the while he is in faint hope he can make it home to his beloved.’
      • ‘There remains a faint hope that he has been released and is attempting to make his way through the jungle.’
      • ‘Today's results extinguished their faint hopes that they could prise back control of the Senate.’
      • ‘With a minute to go, Henry pulled his fifth and final foul and left the court, taking with him Kingston's faint hope of winning the game.’
      • ‘Well, with 13 million creatures who have yet to be named is there a faint chance that you might run out of possible names?’
      slight, slender, slim, small, tiny, minimal, negligible, remote, distant, vague, unlikely, improbable, doubtful, dubious, far-fetched
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    2. 1.2Lacking in strength or enthusiasm; feeble.
      ‘the faint beat of a butterfly's wing’
      • ‘The acquisition of Edmark was greeted with faint enthusiasm when it was first announced.’
      • ‘I made the obvious joke about him looking forward to progressing to the next stage and consuming solids, which got me a faint smile from Quentin.’
      • ‘Hundreds of mourners gather daily, shedding torrents of tears and managing a few faint smiles as they remember their loved ones.’
      • ‘They received the faint answer of ‘yes’ and their fears were assuaged; if only for a moment.’
      • ‘Ask about the income from playing the instrument, he will give you a faint smile as reply.’
      • ‘If that seems like faint praise… well, it is.’
      unenthusiastic, half-hearted, weak, feeble, low-key
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  • 2[predicative] Weak and dizzy; close to losing consciousness.

    ‘the heat made him feel faint’
    • ‘If you become dizzy or faint while sitting, take several deep breaths and bend forward with your head between your knees.’
    • ‘The girls would be faint at the sight of such destruction.’
    • ‘She often had to stop up to 40 times during a training session and had to pull out of major competitions because she felt dizzy or faint.’
    • ‘‘I was putting my arm under pressure but I was losing so much blood I was beginning to feel very faint,’ she said.’
    • ‘He had woken up feeling dizzy and faint, a distant rushing sound in his ears.’
    • ‘The wine rarely loses its faint iodine background flavour and is often high in alcohol.’
    • ‘Finally another man went down to check and found him weak and faint from exertion and lack of air.’
    • ‘Jane awakens again later in the afternoon, faint with hunger and still numb from emotion.’
    • ‘If you feel faint, sweaty, dizzy or confused you may be suffering from an insulin reaction.’
    • ‘They have three or four of these episodes a year when they feel dizzy or faint, but they just pick themselves up and carry on.’
    • ‘If conscious, the person may feel faint or be very weak or confused.’
    • ‘Lydie had never felt so faint in all her life.’
    • ‘Lights danced in front of her eyes, and she felt faint from lack of blood.’
    • ‘This is when you stomach empties too quickly after eating, causing a drop in blood sugar and making you feel dizzy and faint.’
    • ‘My hands were trembling, I almost reached for the phone to call Nick because I felt so faint and dizzy.’
    • ‘He felt faint from the lack of oxygen he was now receiving.’
    • ‘When a panic attack strikes, most likely your heart pounds and you may feel sweaty, weak, faint, or dizzy.’
    • ‘When Kirstle reached her room, panting and close to a faint, her heart almost skipped a beat when she saw the young lady sitting in a chair by her fire.’
    • ‘Bren didn't hear, dizzy and faint from the nausea and endless retching.’
    dizzy, giddy, light-headed, muzzy, weak, weak at the knees, unsteady, shaky, wobbly, off-balance, reeling
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  • 1 Lose consciousness for a short time because of a temporarily insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain.

    • ‘Physical activity, even if it's not very strenuous, may trigger extreme fatigue, dizziness or even fainting.’
    • ‘The child may tire easily and may even faint from physical activity.’
    • ‘Hip fractures were not associated with fainting or the use of sedatives or alcohol.’
    • ‘During either stage, the investigator stops the test if the volunteer faints or develops low blood pressure.’
    • ‘The victim has signs of shock, such as fainting, pale complexion or breathing in a notably shallow manner.’
    • ‘He then began to hyperventilate and allegedly fainted and hit the car in front of him.’
    • ‘Since the age of 14 he had been fainting and losing consciousness regularly at school.’
    • ‘Get the person to lie down on his or her back and elevate the feet higher than the head to keep adequate blood flow to the brain, which will prevent fainting.’
    • ‘The surgery in May came after she had started to suffer alarming ‘blue’ spells, in which she would faint through lack of oxygen.’
    • ‘When blood pressure drops, less blood flows to the brain, leading to fainting.’
    • ‘Don't go if you faint at the sight of blood.’
    • ‘Pacemakers are usually used to treat an abnormally slow heartbeat (heart block) which can cause dizziness, fainting or blackouts.’
    • ‘Geneva was beginning to faint from lack of oxygen, and when he let go of her, she fell to the floor, desperately trying to see who was fighting the men to save her.’
    • ‘My back was hurting badly and I was fainting, losing my senses.’
    • ‘It was concluded that the pilot had fainted or lost his horizon.’
    • ‘I'd do it myself, but I faint at the sight of a needle.’
    • ‘Call the doctor if your child faints more than once in a month.’
    • ‘The patient hadn't fainted; she'd had a stroke and this was the woman who had been so kind to me.’
    • ‘"I have to go… the incense, it's making me faint.’
    • ‘Common signs of pulmonary hypertension are shortness of breath with activity, feeling tired, fainting and chest pain.’
    pass out, lose consciousness, fall unconscious, black out, collapse
    flake out, keel over, conk out, zonk out, drop, go out, go out like a light
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    1. 1.1archaic Grow weak or feeble; decline.
      ‘the fires were fainting’
      • ‘The flame of the soldiers' fire grew faint, white mists rose in the fields, the cannon in the forest ceased and the birds began.’


  • [in singular] A sudden loss of consciousness.

    ‘she hit the floor in a dead faint’
    • ‘As soon as the kiss ended, Jane collapsed in a dead faint on the front steps.’
    • ‘She collapsed to the ground in a dead faint, and Vixen caught her as she fell.’
    • ‘Oreste stumbles, recovers, stumbles again - and measures his length on the ground in a dead faint.’
    • ‘They both fell to the ground in a dead faint, taking their chairs with them.’
    • ‘Once free of danger, she collapsed under a tree in a dead faint.’
    • ‘Others simply dropped to the ground in a dead faint, overwhelmed by Darkstorm's rage.’
    • ‘Catalyne soon tired and collapsed in the middle of the street in a dead faint, the young king rushing to her side as the remaining enemy closed in on them.’
    • ‘If I didn't find food soon I was going to collapse in a dead faint.’
    • ‘If Prudie's beloved showed up in a skirt and pumps, she would probably wind up in a dead faint, but that's what makes horse races, no?’
    • ‘Suddenly Tina let out a high-pitched wail, jumped from her cot and collapsed in a dead faint onto the floor.’
    • ‘Irene shut the door and collapsed on the floor in a dead faint.’
    • ‘The first time he had drunk it he had been violently sick, then had fallen to the ground in a dead faint as the mildly poisonous root exploded through his system.’
    • ‘All she could do was stumble over to her cot and drop in a dead faint.’
    • ‘He gave a loud, startling, heart-wrenching cry and fell backwards in a dead faint.’
    • ‘I never got any farther than saying Mikasho, for my mother had collapsed in a dead faint.’
    • ‘Everyone in the crowd gasped and Miss Moss fell over in a dead faint with poor little Mr. Goodman to catch her stout figure.’
    • ‘Pellew was the one to notice her fatigue and caught her in a dead faint.’
    • ‘The multiple shocks to body and mind sent his wounded psyche catapulting down the dark tunnel to oblivion in a dead faint.’
    • ‘Adondra collapses in a dead faint as the power leaves her body, along with the blood from the deep gash on her shoulder.’
    • ‘I would have started yelling and hooting with glee in his face, but I was in bed in a dead faint while he was thrown out.’
    blackout, fainting fit, loss of consciousness, collapse
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  • not have the faintest

    • informal Have no idea.

      ‘I haven't the faintest what it means’
      • ‘The only problem was that I didn't have the faintest idea what I was going to say.’
      • ‘I don't have the faintest idea who Michelle is talking about here.’
      • ‘Believe me, we want to ‘talk’ with you, but we don't have the faintest idea how to accomplish that.’
      • ‘Iago's final silence was a speaking one; I don't have the faintest idea how to read Hermione's silence.’
      • ‘But I'll tell you, I don't have the faintest idea how they've solved that problem.’
      • ‘In fact, the people proposing to do the research for it didn't have the faintest idea of what chemicals, if any, might produce the results they described.’
      • ‘As a student at Sydney Boys High in the 1950s he didn't have the faintest idea what he wanted to do but, as he was good at debating, was consistently advised to study law.’
      • ‘Afterwards, he said modestly: ‘I didn't have the faintest idea I'd win one award let alone three.’
      • ‘You don't have the faintest idea what has happened, do you?’
      • ‘So, uh, I guess it was a good movie, though I don't have the faintest idea what it was about.’


Middle English ( faint; also in the sense cowardly surviving in faint heart): from Old French faint, past participle of faindre (see feign). Compare with feint.