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


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


plural littles

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
3 : a young child : little one How you introduce your littles to the trail helps determine what they think of hiking as they grow.Backpacker … Beyoncé and JAY-Z don't post many photos of their littlest littles.— Azure Hall As a mom determined to nurse each of her littles, I've tucked myself away in airplane bathrooms dozens of times to pump ounces of milk.— Kourtney Gibson
a little
: somewhat, rather found the play a little dull
in little
: on a small scale especially : in miniature

Other Words from little


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

Choose the Right Synonym for little


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 So there should be a period in the next year or two where growth is low, unemployment is at least up a little bit and inflation is still high. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 16 May 2022 Some of it- and some of these things are a little bit stickier, like energy prices. CBS News, 15 May 2022 Couldn’t make a shot early, and that messed with us a little bit. New York Times, 15 May 2022 So to have somebody who's experienced and can give you a little bit of extra motivation during that really long course is quite fundamental, but then there's even another layer to this. James Brown, USA TODAY, 15 May 2022 That, in turn, makes the Federal Reserve’s job a little bit easier, potentially diminishing its impulse to raise interest rates aggressively to restrain demand and stop the upward move of consumer prices. Jon Hilsenrath, WSJ, 15 May 2022 The win could have been a little bit of revenge as the Stallions sent Holy Spirit home from the state tournament last season with its second loss after a win over Belgreen and a loss to Appalachian. al, 14 May 2022 Psaki, who thanked the press corps during her final briefing Friday, got at that a little bit, albeit in a way that shifted any praise to Biden and his wife, Jill. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2022 And a little bit of Darrell Mansfield (gospel, blues, blues rock, rock, country rock, and soul/R&B)andLarry Norman (RIP). Liza Lentini, SPIN, 13 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb There is little known about smoking many of these pesticides on cannabis, especially since most were studied and approved for use on food crops, not a product that most often gets smoked. Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic, 16 May 2022 Summoned to testify, Mr. McFarlane and his former deputy, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North — White House figures little known to the public until then — emerged into the glare of national publicity as key players in the affair. New York Times, 13 May 2022 The region’s powerful but little-known South Coast Air Quality Management District is threatening to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for not doing more to slash pollution from airplanes, trains and ships, The Times’ Tony Briscoe reports. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 There are pockets packed with kale and cheese, beans and mint, sweet root vegetables, crab sticks and shrimp, and other combinations little known to the Salvadoran table. Washington Post, 9 May 2022 Sai bhaji is synonymous with the Sindhi cuisine, which is little known, even among those from South Asia. Pooja Makhijani, Bon Appétit, 6 May 2022 Also little-known are the contributions of two Arab-American technology pioneers in San Diego. San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 May 2022 Drawn by the friendly local population, stunning scenery and crystal-clear waters, many visitors return year after year, because the essence of the town has changed very little. Lisa Morrow, CNN, 25 Apr. 2022 For the next 30 years, very little changed in the haggadah. The Conversation, oregonlive, 15 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Melton was a four-star recruit with an offer from Ohio State who chose to stay home and do a little of everything for a rebuilding Rutgers program, as a receiver, runner and kick returner. Nate Atkins, The Indianapolis Star, 30 Apr. 2022 Lead guard Baylor Scheierman does a little of everything, ranking second on the team in scoring (16.2) and first in rebounds and assists (7.8, 4.6). Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, 14 Mar. 2022 Heat a medium skillet and add a little of the remaining olive oil. The View, ABC News, 14 Jan. 2022 Curry played a little of everything at Center Grove (Ind.) High School. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 4 Feb. 2022 Cue the bells, cue the whinnying horse, cue the rock & roll buildup — then Ronnie bursts in, with her smoky, irresistible voice, to melt a little of the snow away. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 12 Jan. 2022 How about trying a little of everything, both subscription-based and free? Brian Steinberg, Variety, 28 Dec. 2021 Lizzo, however, threw a little of her own spice into that delicious soul gumbo, shouting out both faux-beau Evans and a certain certified lover boy. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 5 Dec. 2021 When the pasta is ready, use tongs to move it to the pan with the sauce, letting a little of the salty water come along, too. Washington Post, 3 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of little


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


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


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

Learn More About little

Time Traveler for little

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near little



little anteater

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Statistics for little

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Little.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for little


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.


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



Kids Definition of little (Entry 3 of 3)

: a small amount or quantity She knows very little.


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

More from Merriam-Webster on little

Nglish: Translation of little for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of little for Arabic Speakers


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