little

adjective
lit·​tle | \ ˈli-tᵊl \
littler\ ˈli-​tᵊl-​ər , ˈlit-​lər \ or less\ ˈles \ or lesser\ ˈle-​sər \; littlest\ ˈli-​tᵊl-​əst , ˈlit-​ləst \ or least\ ˈlēst \

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 \; least\ ˈlēst \

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

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Other Words from little

Adjective

littleness \ ˈli-​tᵊl-​nəs \ 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
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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

State environmental officials and some environmental groups insist their measurements are accurate, but the study highlights a little known aspect of the carbon emissions debate: the way the gases are counted. David Abel, BostonGlobe.com, "Emissions measures could be too low," 7 July 2018 This all worked a little too well: Housing prices in China are still rising at 10% on the year. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Why Old-School Chinese Stimulus Won’t Help," 21 Jan. 2019 Apparently, a lot of folks turned off their TVs a little too soon last night, because many were wondering if Randall had won the election by morning. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "The Best 'This Is Us' Recap of Episode 10 From Season 3," 16 Jan. 2019 Luckily there's also a few furs spread around to make a roll in the hay a little more comfortable. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 8," 24 Dec. 2018 That's not a bad thing in moderation; some prior seasons went a little overboard with the intricate plotting, multiple timelines, and resulting, baffling paradoxes. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Doctor Who wraps a solid season with its first female Time Lord," 12 Dec. 2018 Power outages hit a little more than 3,700 people in the Clairemont area as well as in National City and nearby parts of San Diego Saturday night. Pauline Repard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Power outages to 3,700 near Clairemont; National City," 14 July 2018 For young people searching for employment, the job hunt just got a little easier. Ahmed Elbenni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Aldermen unveil new app to help combat unemployment in Milwaukee," 12 July 2018 Santa Fe ISD's Board of Trustees will vote Tuesday on whether to install several security features to Santa Fe High School in coming weeks, a little less than two months after a 17-year-old gunman opened fire, killing 10 and wounding 13. Shelby Webb, Houston Chronicle, "Santa Fe ISD trustees to vote on high school security upgrades," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And for those traveling with littles, the hotel’s kids club is ready and waiting. Ariel Okin, Vogue, "8 Romantic Winter Weekend Getaways From New York City," 29 Dec. 2018 Users of these kits are paying good money simply to experience a little of the joy of cooking. Bee Wilson, WSJ, "The Surprising Rewards of Meal Kits," 30 Nov. 2018 Rub a little of the oil on the chicken breasts, sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon salt, and fit them into the pot. Leah Eskin, chicagotribune.com, "How to dry-braise chicken and banish badly poached bouncy meat," 27 June 2018 Other institutions go a little further and help place the students in jobs, Ms. McCarthy says. Cheryl Winokur Munk, WSJ, "Being Smart About Work-Study at College," 7 Dec. 2018 Frankly, we wouldn’t be shocked if one of the littlest littles becomes a beauty influencer by age 10. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "North West Does Kim Kardashian's Makeup on Social Media," 24 Nov. 2018 Some people recommend apple cider vinegar as a home remedy for, um, getting a little backed up, but no research supports this usage. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "The Real Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, According to a Nutritionist," 21 Nov. 2018 Here’s something else to consider: A recent change in the timing of federal-aid calculations may help a little, Young said. Michelle Singletary, BostonGlobe.com, "Should grandparents open a 529 savings plan to help with college costs?," 25 May 2018 Big Sean's next homecoming appearance will have to wait a little while yet. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Big Sean postpones tour, including Little Caesars Arena show," 26 Feb. 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.

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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

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Statistics for little

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Time Traveler for little

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

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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 \
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 \
littler\ ˈlit-​ᵊl-​ər, ˈlit-​lər \ or less\ ˈles \ or lesser\ ˈles-​ər \; littlest\ ˈlit-​ᵊl-​əst, ˈlit-​ləst \ or least\ ˈlēst \

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

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

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excited commotion or publicity

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