Strength, power, or force (usually: by dint of)
The mark or crater on a thing's exterior left by a strike to it
A physical strike or blow, as from violence
To leave a physical mark or depression
The first time you drop your phone is a sad day, indeed. As cautious as we are with the information portal to the world that is the modern smartphone, that moment inevitably comes when our delicate care is not enough and it meets with the hard, unforgiving floor. If you're lucky, your phone will escape with only a small dint on the edge, a notch reminding you to remain vigilant lest it happen again.
A dint is a usually small hollow or scuff mark on the surface of a thing that results from some form of physical impact to it. No matter what may have been responsible for it, be it another object or a person, a dint is any remnant physical marking that comes from direct impact. While it is less frequently employed than the more literal sense, it is possible to describe a conceptual blemish on an abstract notion as a dint as well. This sense of the word is exceptionally rare in contemporary settings, but it does see occasional use in Australian and New Zealand English, usually to mean a relatively small impact, mark, or result.
More often, dint is used to mean the strength or power that resides in something. By far the most prevalent iteration of this form is in the expression by dint of, which expresses that some outcome has resulted from the impact or force of the noun that follows. In this usage, dint can represent both literal and metaphorical strength: a weightlifter can lift heavy things by dint of an extensive bodybuilding regimen, but a mediator can pacify two antagonistic parties by dint of a reserved, diplomatic bearing. Generally, to say that some feat is accomplished or realized by dint of something implies that it is only, exclusively by that thing that the eventual outcome resulted. In other words, when the result happens by dint of some factor, that factor was the key, deciding element. As such, the phrase is employed most commonly where a singular trait or development was the cause of a positive conclusion. For instance, it would be more common to say one succeeds by dint of hard work than that one fails by dint of procrastination. Wherever power is at work, dint can make its impact known.
In a sort of blending of both the foregoing senses, dint can also carry the archaic signification of a physical blow, often stemming from an attack of some kind. Unlike the primary meaning, though, a dint in this regard does not have to leave any indication or mark that the blow, in fact, landed. It simply denotes that contact has been made by one party against another.
Finally, the word dint can take the form of a verb to mean the act of leaving an impression or marking on something. Fittingly, to dint something often leaves a dint on the surface of the object that is struck. Though this form of the word is still in relatively common usage, one is far more likely to hear “dent” used instead of dint in instances where either can be applied.
Example: The coin she handed to the appraiser was in practically mint condition, without a single visible dint on it.
Example: By dint of stubbornness, he kept asking his boss for a promotion even after being denied every time.
Example: She passed her test with flying colors purely by dint of disciplined study.
Example: The seasoned boxer was undeterred after each dint his opponent landed, closing in even so.
Example: He decided to dint his school desk with an indignant kick after getting assigned a huge essay right before break.
Dint adopted its most common modern usage, as part of the idiom by dint of, sometime in the early 1300s. The first appearance of the word dint in Middle English, bearing the alternate spellings of dent and dünt, was preceded by the Old English dynt, which meant “strike, bruise, or marking,” specifically by a weapon. The Old English form, which is derived from the Proto-Germanic duntiz, also bears resemblance to the Old Norse word dyntr, which also meant “blow” or “kick.”
Dinted: This past tense of dint's verb form indicates when an impact or mark was made sometime in the past.
Example: When he dinted his trumpet, he had to take it to the shop for repair.
Dinting: The active verb form of the word depicts the current act of making a physical impression on something.
Example: She started dinting the piece of scrap metal so she could more easily bend it in half to fit in the container.
Dints: This conjugation is used when a third-party is leaving a literal mark or impact.
Example: He dints his phone so often that he decided to get a case for it.
From Victor Hugo's Les Miserables:
What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is to love! The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion.
Hugo emphatically declares love to be so powerful that one can find heroic courage by the force of, or by dint of, the stirring feelings that it evokes.
You probably wish you didn’t drop your phone and leave a dint.
Your breath will be fresh by dint of a mint.
If you dint something, it leaves a dent.
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of dint. Did you use dint in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.