little by little


Definition of little by little

: by small degrees or amounts : gradually

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for little by little



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of little by little in a Sentence

little by little, we pieced together the jigsaw puzzle
Recent Examples on the Web Nurses had been weaning the patient off the ventilator, letting her lungs take over little by little. USA Today, "Heartbreak, prayer and mourning: US leads world in coronavirus deaths after deadliest week," 15 Apr. 2020 But little by little, over the course of the week, the decision to play on seemed to be clawed from their hands. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "Twenty-Four Hours When Sports Hit the Halt Button," 12 Mar. 2020 This is something very modern that the world became aware of, little by little, after the end of the war. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "An American in Paris," 17 Jan. 2020 Rather, free will is more like the ability to exercise an inner deliberation that, little by little, constitutes the individual in his or her originality. K.n.c., The Economist, "Open Future A cry for freedom in the algorithmic age," 10 Jan. 2020 Every one means, little by little, Linda's life is changing, getting better. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "She was Indy's best female boxer; now her daughter, 10, with spina bifida is a boxer, too," 12 Dec. 2019 Just like the other steps, add little by little and blend. Tynan Sinks, Allure, "3 Ways I Mastered Eye Shadow for My Hooded Eyes," 28 Sep. 2018 What followed outside Mercy Corps overwhelmed Tania (and, frankly, us): dozens of employees got wind of Tania’s presence outside and, little by little, came out to greet her. oregonlive, "Looking back on 2019: An Oregonian photographer reflects on images of hope, fear, joy and perseverance," 27 Dec. 2019 But even little by little, a big change is happening., "Judge Akihiro Suzuki said in his ruling that he found Ito “highly trustworthy” and accepted her account of being assaulted in Yamaguchi’s hotel room after he took her to dinner in Tokyo in 2015 to discuss job prospects.," 19 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'little by 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 by little

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about little by little

Time Traveler for little by little

Time Traveler

The first known use of little by little was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for little by little

Last Updated

22 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Little by little.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on little by little

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for little by little

Comments on little by little

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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