I was learning the meaning of "dense". There was many meanings such as "stupid" and "thick". Everytime this happens, I get confused. Is there any reason for this? I mean, How are "stupid" and "thick" related to each other ?

How is this possible that 'dense' is equal to 'thick' , 'dense' is equal to 'stupid', but 'thick' is far away from 'stupid'?

Note: This situation happens a lot for me. Sometimes I think that maybe what I imagine from a word in my mind, is far different from what an English person might think of it. Is this true ?

  • "Dense" as in stupid is informal. A lot of informal words are taken from actual words, not always made up (e.g. to screw -> to turn or move with a twisting or rotating motion, like a screw for instance; to screw -> to have sex (informal)). As for dense, it might come from thick-headed, which means unintelligent/stupid. And since dense means thick, thick-headed became dense. – MorganFR Aug 3 '16 at 11:29
  • 1
    Many English words have different meanings that don't necessarily have anything to do with each other. For example, "rank" can mean both "a position within a hierarchy" and "an offensively strong smell". There isn't necessarily any connection between the meanings, and you just have to memorize them, unfortunately. – stangdon Aug 3 '16 at 11:32
  • @MorganFR what you said about thick-headed somehow convinced me about this meaning ! so, when u call a person 'dense', you mean he/she is thick-headed? ( somehow joking about them? ) – Arman Malekzadeh Aug 3 '16 at 11:36
  • "Thick" and "dense" are synonyms (def 1), and "thick-headed", "thick" and "dense" are also synonyms (def 2). It is not necessarily a joke, you might simply call them stupid because you think they are. In that case, any synonym of "stupid" works, including those three. And one last thing, "thick-headed" also has 2 definitions, that of being stupid, or the literal version of having an actual thick head, like some animals. – MorganFR Aug 3 '16 at 11:40
  • @Arman Malekzade: Is it really so surprising that one word in a certain language can have two (or more) different meanings depending on the context? I don't know your mother tongue, but I'm pretty sure you will find such words there, too. In my opinion, this is a part of languages developing over the ages. – someasw Aug 3 '16 at 11:53

After using Google search, this is what I found:




1. closely compacted in substance.

"as the storm cleared, a dense fog came down" synonyms: thick, heavy, opaque, soupy, murky, smoggy, impenetrable; More

2. informal (of a person) stupid.

"Am I being dense? I don't quite understand"

Definition (1) clearly states that 'dense' is synonymous with 'thick'.

Many words have multiple meanings/definitions. It is context that makes "everything" clear.

If we are eating pancakes and we pour some honey and say that honey is dense, that cannot mean that honey is 'stupid' (because in the context that we have, honey is a substance, and definition (2) doesn't apply)

  • I also used google search but what i meant was not the meaning :) that's not the answer of my question sir :) – Arman Malekzadeh Aug 3 '16 at 11:30
  • Hi, @Arman, I posted and edited. – shin Aug 3 '16 at 11:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.