Dents vs. Dense

Photo of author


Dents and dense are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing. Pronunciation may change, even though the spelling doesn’t, producing two words that are pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings such as night and knight. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word threw is derived from the Old English word thrawan, and the word through came from the Old English word thurh. We will examine the definitions of the words dents and dense, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Dents is the plural form of the noun, dent. A dent is a hollow depression caused by a blow or other type of pressure. One may put a dent in a pot or pan by banging it too hard on a counter. Automobiles often obtain dents in accidents or in hail storms. A soft cheese may receive a dent simply under the pressure of a finger. Dents is also the third-person singular form of the verb dent, meaning to cause something to become dented or to put a dent in something. The verb dent is also used to mean to diminish something. Related words are dented, denting. The word dent was originally a variant of the Middle English word dint, and probably came to its current meaning influenced by the word indent.

Dense is an adjective that describes something that is compacted, something that is thick or crowded into a small space. Density is measured by calculating the mass or weight of an object and dividing it by its volume or the amount of space that the object occupies. The word dense is also used figuratively to mean someone who is not very smart. The idea is that the person’s head is too thick for ideas to penetrate the brain. Dense is also used to mean a tome or other text that is packed with ideas to the point that it is difficult to understand. Many may consider a physics textbook to be dense. Related words are the adverb densely, the adjectives denser, densest, and the noun denseness. The word dense is derived from the Latin word densus which means thick.


Campbell said it is critical to the auto collision industry to not only teach students how to repair dents and paint, but also how to use technology to reset collision avoidance systems being built for new vehicle models. (Autobody News)

“You’re always better off pounding out deep dents or replacing heavily pitted parts with new metal,” says veteran restorer Jeff Gravert of Central City, Nebraska. (Successful Farming Magazine)

General Motors said Monday it will close five factories and lay off nearly 15,000 workers in a move that shows the economy may be starting to slow and dents President Trump’s claim to be leading a renaissance for industrial America. (Washington Post)

“It’s not often we have to issue a dense fog advisory for inland areas this early in the evening … Be careful out there and make sure you have some kind of light on to be seen, even if you’re just walking outside,” NWS said in a tweet. (The Columbian)

Not only is breast density linked to increased cancer risk, it makes cancer harder to detect because dense tissue has a high proportion of fibroglandular or connective tissue, which shows up white on mammograms. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Enjoyed reading about these homophones? Check out some others we covered: