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 Bryan is a city of a little more than 84,000 around 85 miles northeast of Austin and northwest of Houston. NBC News, "Texas workplace shooting suspect faces more charges," 10 Apr. 2021 Experts are asking the public to hold onto precautions just a little longer. Marc Bona, cleveland, "5 states show Covid numbers spike, Olympic torch relay cancelled, more - coronavirus timeline April 3-9," 10 Apr. 2021 Oh, some of the rates bounced up a little on Monday and Tuesday. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "What does Alaska Air’s participation in the oneworld airline alliance mean for you," 10 Apr. 2021 In that effort, this gelding broke a little slow and inward to brush the runner-up Up To Hit away from the gate. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Remembering Prince Philip," 10 Apr. 2021 The buttons that the Giants handed out to fans said Welcome Home but home felt and looked a little different. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "The Giants and Oracle Park feel different, but home opener gives hope for normalcy," 9 Apr. 2021 The acting's overdone and the action's only a little better in this bland revenge thriller. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "What to stream this weekend: Netflix's 'Thunder Force,' 'City of Lies' with Johnny Depp," 9 Apr. 2021 But his death hits a little different for me, a writer from his Yonkers, New York hometown. Shanita Hubbard, Essence, "'DMX Showed Me There's Power When We Open Wounds In Art'," 9 Apr. 2021 At that point, the shouting was quieted, just a little. New York Times, "Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: Too Big to Fall," 9 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb But what about something a little more challenging? Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "The best movies to watch with family, from 'Up' and 'Black Panther' to 'Wizard of Oz'," 10 Apr. 2021 That distinction, though, is a little more complicated than Paxson suggested., "Will Brown University consider reparations after students voted to do so? Answer: It’s complicated," 8 Apr. 2021 In 92 countries around the world, a vast but little-known network of roughly 60,000 Catholic nuns are fighting human trafficking. NBC News, "Reopened offices leave some workers cold, Facebook groups fill the void and Trump's surprising rebrand," 5 Apr. 2021 Even after being elected to the Senate in 2012, the Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono was, by her own choosing, a politician little known outside her home state. David Marchese, New York Times, "Sen. Mazie Hirono Wonders How Some Republicans Live With Themselves," 28 Mar. 2021 Nearly 70 paintings and works on paper by older brother Charles, the exhibition presents a small, intimate selection of works revealing a Jackson Pollock little known to the general public. Mary Lou Cruz,, "Sunday calendar: Community and entertainment events starting March 28," 26 Mar. 2021 The modest-sized, nimble dogs might be little known in the U.S. but have intriguing distinctions, including six-toed feet, unusual flexibility, climbing acumen and a history of hunting puffins. Jennifer Peltz, Star Tribune, "Watch out, Labs: French bulldogs poised to win the pooch popularity contest," 26 Mar. 2021 Raymond Ayala — a Puerto Rican reggaetonero little known outside the island at a time when reggaetón was just beginning to encounter commercial success. Rolling Stone, "Excerpt: Shakira, Daddy Yankee Break Down Breakthrough Hits in New Book," 18 Mar. 2021 Over the decades, masses of stuff came into the house, but very little left. Washington Post, "The pandemic gave me the time to finally clean out my shameful attic. Here’s what I learned.," 21 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Jin, Suga, and J-Hope had their hands in a little of everything as BE’s production coordinators. Natalie Morin,, "BTS Helps The World Feel A Little Smaller — & We Need It More Than Ever," 3 Dec. 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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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

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Little.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 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

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Comments on little

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