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



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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There was little but desert on that side of the wall. Matt Rivers, Luis Chaparro And Natalie Gallón, CNN, "Inside a smuggling operation moving migrants across the US-Mexico border," 4 May 2021 Magicians, musicians and balloon artists will entertain and pony rides and a little miniature golf course will be set up for the kids. Annie Alleman,, "Long Grove hosts smaller chocolate fest with demos, yoga and of course sweet treats," 4 May 2021 Villanueva, who protected Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side for six seasons in Pittsburgh, has little experience elsewhere. Jonas Shaffer,, "Ravens reportedly agree to two-year, $14 million deal with OT Alejandro Villanueva," 4 May 2021 Though rare, undiagnosed heart problems kill children every year with little warning in part because they are not picked up by traditional physical exams done by pediatricians or those required for athletic participation. Leslie Postal,, "‘It saves lives’: OCPS students must get ECGs to play sports, school board decides," 4 May 2021 Ideally, this new measure would be the first of many—unlike the the last time governments tried to reform air conditioning, in the 1980s, when a different refrigerating chemical was banned and then little further action was taken for decades. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Make Air Conditioners Suck Less," 4 May 2021 Drizzle a little olive oil on each slice, then rub with the cut-side of the extra garlic clove., "Recipe: Satisfying bowls of mussels with lots of lemon juice and garlic toasts take very little prep," 4 May 2021 The institute released a ranking of more than 3,100 hospitals examining success at avoiding the use of tests and procedures that offer little to no clinical benefit. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "US hospitals overused elective procedures and tests before pandemic, report shows. Experts say focus must return to patient safety.," 4 May 2021 In a country where transitions of power have often been violent, there is little to reassure Afghans that a peaceful settlement is on the horizon. NBC News, "Inequity and inefficiency hit vaccine push, plus Biden pursues GOP deal on infrastructure," 3 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Midwest just got a little more adventurous with the creation of Ioway Tribal National Park. Graham Averill, Outside Online, "Newly Designated Public Lands to Explore," 3 May 2021 The competition got a little more crowded this weekend. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "‘A basketball team’: Cowboys' NFL draft haul foreshadows defensive remake under Dan Quinn," 3 May 2021 The park segment that is north of the interstate is a little more removed from the highway traffic noise and has a small campground and spring-fed swimming pond. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's least popular state parks offer more than a quiet experience away from crowds," 29 Apr. 2021 The West Side got a little more beautiful over the weekend as some 17 street artists spent two days painting colorful murals on buildings near the intersection of West Commerce and Zarzamora streets. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, "'Elevated street art' - San Antonio's West Side blossoms with colorful murals," 25 Apr. 2021 Throw in the revelations about Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), and for once Marvel's famous teases for future projects felt a little more conspicuously like loose ends, begging for a second season. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' finale completes its ambitious hero's journey," 23 Apr. 2021 Yeah, but now things get a little more complicated. Paul Tassi, Forbes, "‘Outriders’ Details Its Extremely Complicated Inventory Wipe Restoration Plan," 21 Apr. 2021 An Earth Day cleanup on Lake Ivanhoe aims to make the City Beautiful a little more beautiful as paddlers will take to the water to remove trash from the Orlando body of water. Patrick Connolly,, "Earth Day in Orlando: 10 events, festivals and ways to celebrate," 21 Apr. 2021 But with spring’s arrival, the time for stepping out of our sartorial security blanket and into something a little more revealing has come. Eliza Huber,, "Welcome To Midriff Season," 20 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Transfer the pork to a plate, spoon a little of the remaining dressing over, cover with another plate or foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Washington Post, "Spicy pork and soba noodles deliver sweet, salty and crunchy in one filling dish," 27 Apr. 2021 Oladipo debuts for Miami Victor Oladipo, another major trade deadline acquisition, made his debut Thursday for the Miami Heat and did a little of everything in a 116-109 win over the Golden State Warriors. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, "LaMarcus Aldridge calls his Nets debut 'perfect'," 2 Apr. 2021 Bring a little of the Asian nation home to you with a monthly delivery of Japanese snacks, teas and candies. Lesley Kennedy, CNN Underscored, "The tastiest snack subscription boxes for any craving," 24 Mar. 2021 The junior guard did a little of everything, adding seven assists, six rebounds, and five steals in the title game. Tom Withers, Star Tribune, "Ohio beats Buffalo for first MAC title since 2012, NCAA bid," 13 Mar. 2021 Ray Kolias and his wife, Pam, wanted to explore a little of Florida’s wild side on a recent morning. Martin E. Comas,, "Facing surge of hikers, Seminole looks at expanding parking at Black Bear Wilderness Area," 6 Mar. 2021 Jackson resident Terri Hall told WAPT that water has only been dripping from her faucet and that what little comes out is mixed with sediment. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, "Water crisis in South persists following devastating winter storm," 1 Mar. 2021 Vermont is led by Ryan Davis and Stef Smith, both of whom can heat up from long distance, while R.J. Eytle-Rock does a little of everything for the Retrievers. Erick Smith, USA TODAY, "Breakdowns of men's college basketball conference tournaments," 26 Feb. 2021 The truth is, most work-from-home employees will try a little of everything. Christopher Elliott, Forbes, "These New Work-From-Home Meals Could Keep You Happy — And Healthy," 25 Feb. 2021

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Little.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for little



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 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

Comments on little

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