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 intensivewhy, 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 ahad 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 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



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

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Other Words from little


littleness \ ˈli-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce littleness (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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective If the state’s players were ranked by NFL receptions instead of receiving yards, the order would be a little different and one new player would be in the top 10. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Alabama Roots: Top 10 NFL receivers," 13 July 2020 This season’s setup will be a little different than just watching the game on TV. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, "Cincinnati Reds TV, radio broadcast teams will call road games from home," 12 July 2020 Her block parties look a little different than the one in Allendale, but many of the same people were there, and were there for the same reason. CBS News, "Rebuilding caring communities, block by block," 12 July 2020 For those that choose to go back, school will look a little different when doors reopen in the next several weeks. Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star, "What you need to know about Indianapolis Public Schools plan to reopen next month," 11 July 2020 The fall sports schedule is going to look a little different for some Lone Star Varsity coverage area schools. Carlos Silva Jr, USA TODAY, "New Mexico sports pushed back to spring, alters Texas athletic school schedules," 10 July 2020 Ride-hailing in the Bay Area looks a little different now — for the handful of folks who are venturing to use it during the coronavirus pandemic. Carolyn Said,, "Uber’s name-your-price feature for drivers hits Bay Area," 9 July 2020 Although the library may look a little different, one thing remains the same. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, "Tri-C student-athletes excel with All-Academic honors: Talk of the Towns," 9 July 2020 For something a little different, try the frozen Unicorn latte with honeycomb crunch. Sarah Bahari, Dallas News, "Where to find Irving’s best ice cream, snow cones and other frozen treats this summer," 6 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb In just one New Jersey nursing home, at least 53 residents died after the sick were housed with the healthy and staffers had little more than rudimentary face shields for protection. Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, "The U.S. Is Repeating Its Deadliest Pandemic Mistake," 6 July 2020 Sturgis’ equipment is a little more sophisticated—but not a lot more. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "How to Plant the Ultimate No-Till Food Plot," 6 July 2020 The state as a whole has been a little more reckless, infectious disease experts said. Erin Allday,, "How did we get here? California struggling to stay on top of pandemic," 5 July 2020 For starters, the tie-dye—which is so on-trend right now—is understated, yet gives a little more personality to the jacket, especially in the rose pink shade. Shayna Murphy, USA TODAY, "The 7 best things to buy during Anthropologie's huge summer sale," 28 June 2020 But Apple’s ultimate success in that area may prove a little more damaging. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "Intel Can Lose Apple—but Little Else," 24 June 2020 The steering requires a little more effort than most of the others' but feels much more positive for it. Kevin Smith, Car and Driver, "Seven 1990 SUVs Tested: Ford vs. GMC vs. Isuzu vs. Jeep vs. Mitsubishi vs. Nissan vs. Toyota," 22 June 2020 Trump had little more to say about the coronavirus beyond his praise for our increasing testing capacity and his decision to restrict the entry of the Chinese. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "This Is How Trump Plans to Beat Biden," 21 June 2020 The upshot so far has been little more than false hope for farmers. NBC News, "Soybean farmers face 'stress, chaos,' as Trump continues to attack China trade deal," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So what better way to ratchet up a rivalry — other than winning a Super Bowl, that is — than to spend a little of Jerry’s money? Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "Dak Prescott won’t get anything close to Patrick Mahomes’ blockbuster deal, but the Cowboys QB’s price just went up," 7 July 2020 Some of us in the scientific community here in the US have been a little surprised at the sprightly competitiveness of some of the comments from our colleagues at Oxford. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, "With big talk and hurled insults, the gloves come off in the race for the coronavirus vaccine," 27 May 2020 If the United States is to be run by a man who has perfected the paranoid style, the least its citizens might expect is a little of that paranoia when it is actually needed. Fintan O’toole, The New York Review of Books, "Vector in Chief," 29 Apr. 2020 And who doesn’t need a little controlled drama in life? Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Of Course People Are Streaming Movies Right Now—That Doesn’t Mean It’s the New Normal," 29 Apr. 2020 According to Payne, elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol may also play a role in wacky quarantine dreams by causing them to fragment further—and everyone’s a little stressed out right now. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "Why Covid-19 Quarantine Dreams Are Taking Over the Internet," 16 Apr. 2020 Bills called a quick TO -- wonder if Buffalo was a little surprised., "The Patriots scored 13 quick points and held on down the stretch for the 16-10 win over the Bills Sunday in Orchard Park, using a tremendous defensive effort to stay unbeaten.," 30 Sep. 2019 As the monument veers closer to completion, what little was recorded of Dinah’s life will continue to be discussed at Stenton. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Philadelphia Will Memorialize Dinah, an Enslaved Woman Who Saved the City’s Historic Stenton House in 1777," 1 May 2020 If your chickens are fed organically, a little goes a long way in terms of getting healthy, beautiful plants. Trace Barnett, al, "Expert tips for creating a pollinator garden at home," 28 Apr. 2020

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.

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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

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Learn More about little

Time Traveler for little

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for little

Last Updated

28 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Little.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for little


How to pronounce little (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of little

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: small in size
: not tall
: small in amount



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


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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on little

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for little

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with little

Spanish Central: Translation of little

Nglish: Translation of little for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of little for Arabic Speakers

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