little

adjective
lit·​tle | \ ˈli-tᵊl How to pronounce little (audio) \
littler\ ˈli-​tᵊl-​ər How to pronounce littler (audio) , ˈlit-​lər \ or less\ ˈles How to pronounce less (audio) \ or lesser\ ˈle-​sər How to pronounce lesser (audio) \; littlest\ ˈli-​tᵊl-​əst How to pronounce littlest (audio) , ˈlit-​ləst \ or least\ ˈlēst How to pronounce least (audio) \

Definition of little

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : not big: such as
a : small in size or extent : tiny has little feet
b : young was too little to remember
c of a plant or animal : small in comparison with related forms used in vernacular names
d : having few members or inhabitants a little group little towns
e : small in condition, distinction, or scope big business trampling on the little fellow
f : narrow, mean the pettiness of little minds
g : pleasingly small a cute little thing
h used as an intensive why, you little devil!
2 : not much: such as
a : existing only in a small amount or to a slight degree has little money
b : short in duration : brief There is little time left.
c : existing to an appreciable though not extensive degree or amount used with a had a little money in the bank
3 : small in importance or interest : trivial a few little problems to be dealt with

little

adverb
less\ ˈles How to pronounce less (audio) \; least\ ˈlēst How to pronounce least (audio) \

Definition of little (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : in only a small quantity or degree : slightly facts that were little known at the time
b : not at all cared little for their neighbors

little

noun

Definition of little (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a small amount, quantity, or degree also : practically nothing little has changed
2a : a short time
b : a short distance
a little
: somewhat, rather found the play a little dull
in little
: on a small scale especially : in miniature

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from little

Adjective

littleness \ ˈli-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce littleness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for little

Adjective

small, little, diminutive, minute, tiny, miniature mean noticeably below average in size. small and little are often interchangeable, but small applies more to relative size determined by capacity, value, number. a relatively small backyard little is more absolute in implication often carrying the idea of petiteness, pettiness, insignificance, or immaturity. your pathetic little smile diminutive implies abnormal smallness. diminutive bonsai plants minute implies extreme smallness. a minute amount of caffeine in the soda tiny is an informal equivalent to minute. tiny cracks formed in the painting miniature applies to an exactly proportioned reproduction on a very small scale. a dollhouse with miniature furnishings

Examples of little in a Sentence

Adjective

I have very little money, so I can't lend you any. I have less money than I did before. I got very little sleep last night. There's little hope of a rescue now. You have little choice but to pay attention. The new version bears little resemblance to the original. These programs have very little chance of succeeding. These trinkets have little or no value. We're having a little party this weekend. a little group of people

Adverb

She works very little and sleeps even less. Please speak as little as possible. We had little more than we needed. His art is little known in this country.

Noun

there's just a little of the pie left
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

On display against Holy Cross will be a team that appears to have decent top-line talent but little depth. Mike Anthony, courant.com, "As New Season Kicks Off, UConn Players Say Edsall Has Them More Than Ready," 30 Aug. 2017 Those who already dislike him will find little to like in his hurricane response. Linda Feldmann, The Christian Science Monitor, "Harvey tests Trump on leadership – and on policy," 30 Aug. 2017 The residents of Arbor Terrace, a senior living facility in the now-underwater Kingwood Town Center, had little time to grab anything. Alaska Dispatch News, "Harvey again makes 2nd landfall in Louisiana, this time as a tropical storm," 30 Aug. 2017 Prior to the study, published in the health journal BMC Obesity, little research had evaluated dishes specifically designed for portion control, the university said. Staff, cleveland.com, "Comment here on cleveland.com court and crime stories for Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017," 30 Aug. 2017 Chop suey is not the only Chinese-American dish that has little connection to Chinese cuisine. Kat Eschner, Smithsonian, "Chop Suey: An American Classic," 29 Aug. 2017 Even as Trump’s political team seeks to distance the president from what his company is doing, Trump has done little to assist them. David A. Graham, The Atlantic, "Trump's Business Dealings Come Back to Haunt Him," 29 Aug. 2017 And there's little room for error, with Reseda playing Thursday this week against Chavez. Eric Sondheimer, latimes.com, "Excessive heat warning causes Reseda to hold 6 a.m. football practice," 29 Aug. 2017 After strapping into the game's first beta on PC, however, that two-month span began to feel a little more epic. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Waiting for Destiny 2 on PC just got harder thanks to a drool-worthy beta," 28 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

During a four-decade political career, Biden brought home little more than his government salary. Stephen Braun, BostonGlobe.com, "Biden earned millions after leaving White House, financial disclosures show," 9 July 2019 Without the actor’s quick-witted delivery, Stu would be little more than a thin stereotype of beta-male passivity. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "Review: 'Stuber' is a sloppy action-comedy that never surges to life," 9 July 2019 PBR Extra has a little more of a kick, featuring an elevated ABV of 6.5 percent (the original PBR has 4.6 percent), while Pabst Blue Ribbon Non-Alcoholic comes in at 0.5 percent ABV—just about booze-free. Hannah Chubb, PEOPLE.com, "Pabst Blue Ribbon Is Combining Caffeine and Booze with a New Hard Coffee," 8 July 2019 Unsurprising, perhaps, since 48% looked to crowded food packages for guidance: Some labels are meaningful while others are little more than marketing. The Conversation, "Confused about what to eat? Science can help," 5 July 2019 There, away from light pollution and relatively safe from the threat of cloud cover, the total eclipse will begin at 4:39 pm local time, a little more than an hour before sunset. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Tuesday’s total solar eclipse: how to watch," 2 July 2019 The scuttling occurred a little more than a week ago off the Treasure Coast, where a flotilla of pleasure boaters surrounded a spectacle made possible by a small mountain of concrete that Orlando Utilities Commission had to dump somewhere. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando utility donates 200 tons of concrete to help sink cocaine ship," 2 July 2019 That French overlap in their venn diagram makes this non-fusion fusion — let’s just call the genre New American luxury — feel a little more natural. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "An early taste of Pernoi, one of metro Detroit's most anticipated restaurants ever," 19 June 2019 These images were taken on August 12, 2009, a little more than a day after the exact equinox. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "What's happening inside Saturn's rings? The Cassini mission dove between them to find out," 13 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Ryobi is a good little saw that got off to an unfortunate start. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Budget-Friendly Circular Saws for Summer Construction," 9 July 2019 That did strike me as a little uncalled for,’’ the judge said. oregonlive.com, "Former Oregon man sentenced to 2 years in prison for defrauding investors in gold-mining scam," 8 July 2019 When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced the name of their newborn son, Archie Harrison, most people were at least a little surprised by the choice. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "This Little Boy Might Actually Have Been the Inspiration for Archie Harrison's Name," 11 May 2019 The next season Johnson showed a little of the promise coaches saw. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Graduation leaves Poway with crucial roles to fill," 27 June 2019 Everybody knew this team would be challenged offensively, though a little surprised the pitching has not been better. Henry Schulman, SFChronicle.com, "Giants mailbag: Buster Posey’s future, state of farm system, team expectations," 24 June 2019 Half the conference’s likely first-round contingent, in other words, provided precious little in return. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "NBA Draft preview: Pac-12 totals project to historical standard, but the path avoids Tucson and Westwood," 20 June 2019 Milanese coffee drinkers will have to wait a little to get their first local Caramel Cocoa Cluster Frappuccino. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "After 25,000 Stores in 78 Countries, Starbucks Turns to Italy," 6 Sep. 2018 Such worries could wait a little, until the euphoria had died down. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Ronaldo Leaves Real Madrid to Join Juventus," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'little.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of little

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for little

Adjective, Adverb, and Noun

Middle English littel, from Old English lȳtel; akin to Old High German luzzil little

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about little

Statistics for little

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for little

The first known use of little was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for little

little

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of little

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: small in size
: not tall
: small in amount

little

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of little (Entry 2 of 2)

: in a very small amount or degree
: hardly at all : not very much
: not very often

little

adjective
lit·​tle | \ ˈli-tᵊl How to pronounce little (audio) \
littler\ ˈlit-​lər \ or less\ ˈləs \; littlest\ ˈlit-​ləst \ or least\ ˈlēst \

Kids Definition of little

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : small in size a little house
2 : small in quantity They had little food to eat.
3 : young entry 1 sense 1 little children
4 : short in duration or extent We had a little chat.
5 : small in importance It's a little problem.

little

adverb
less\ ˈles \; least\ ˈlēst \

Kids Definition of little (Entry 2 of 3)

: in a very small quantity or degree The history is little known.
little by little
: by small steps or amounts : gradually

little

noun

Kids Definition of little (Entry 3 of 3)

: a small amount or quantity She knows very little.

little

adjective
lit·​tle | \ ˈlit-ᵊl How to pronounce little (audio) \
littler\ ˈlit-​ᵊl-​ər, ˈlit-​lər How to pronounce littler (audio) \ or less\ ˈles How to pronounce less (audio) \ or lesser\ ˈles-​ər How to pronounce lesser (audio) \; littlest\ ˈlit-​ᵊl-​əst, ˈlit-​ləst How to pronounce littlest (audio) \ or least\ ˈlēst How to pronounce least (audio) \

Medical Definition of little

: not big: as
a : small in size or extent has little feet
b of a plant or animal : small in comparison with related forms used in vernacular names

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on little

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with little

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for little

Spanish Central: Translation of little

Nglish: Translation of little for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of little for Arabic Speakers

Comments on little

What made you want to look up little? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!