little

adjective
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 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 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

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 How to pronounce littleness (audio) \ 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

The helicopter went down about 11 minutes after taking off from a heliport along the East River, a little more than a mile (1.6 km) away. Washington Post, "Helicopter crashes on roof of NYC skyscraper, killing pilot," 11 June 2019 While, yes, things aren’t looking good for phthalates, other ingredients are a little more nuanced. Deanna Pai, Bon Appétit, "Why a Good, Clean Haircare Brand Is Hard to Find," 11 June 2019 The helicopter went down about 11 minutes after taking off from a heliport along the East River, a little more than a mile (1.6 km) away. Jim Mustian, Twin Cities, "Helicopter crashes on roof of NYC skyscraper; pilot killed," 10 June 2019 The helicopter went down about 11 minutes after taking off from a heliport along the East River, a little more than a mile (1.6 km) away. Jim Mustian, Anchorage Daily News, "Helicopter crashes on roof of NYC skyscraper; pilot killed," 10 June 2019 The Vanity Fair cover was part of a larger perception that O’Rourke’s presidential campaign was built around little more than skateboarding and live-streaming his visit to his dentist hygienist. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Beto’s Bet on Iowa," 9 June 2019 And just to overload you a little more with acronyms, both MicroLED and DV-QLED are TBD. Joe Lindsey, Popular Mechanics, "OLED or QLED: Which TV Is Right for You?," 4 June 2019 But to present her work to Queen Elizabeth, Kate changed into something a little more formal. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Wears Erdem to Show Queen Elizabeth Her Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show," 20 May 2019 Authorities caught him with a quarter of a pound of crack and a little more than a quarter pound of powder. Eric Heisig, cleveland.com, "Cleveland man freed from prison after Trump-signed criminal justice reform bill grateful for second chance," 18 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Milanese coffee drinkers will have to wait a little to get their first local Caramel Cocoa Cluster Frappuccino. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "After 25,000 Stores in 78 Countries, Starbucks Turns to Italy," 6 Sep. 2018 Such worries could wait a little, until the euphoria had died down. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Ronaldo Leaves Real Madrid to Join Juventus," 10 July 2018 Treat her to a little Self Care on Mother's Day with these relaxing bath bombs that will make her bath sooo much better. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "11 DIY Mother's Day Gifts That Will Make Her Feel All *Sparkly* Inside," 4 Apr. 2019 Like most of the novel’s cast, Burgh is a patchwork of real-life people: a pinch of Mark Rothko (alcoholism and depression), a touch of Philip Guston (early years as a muralist), perhaps a little of Sandler himself (service in World War II). Jackson Arn, WSJ, "‘Goodbye to Tenth Street’ Review: A Final Sweeping," 15 Feb. 2019 More: Things to do this week in Cincinnati: April 10-15 Food and beverage vendors will also be on-site and there will be prizes and takeaways for the littles. Luann Gibbs, Cincinnati.com, "Kids can drive bulldozers, dump trucks, more at hands-on Big Dig event," 10 Apr. 2018 Gorsuch’s quick confirmation in the spring of 2017, and Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement a little over a year later, kept the wounds fresh. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court’s looming legitimacy crisis," 24 Sep. 2018 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

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 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.

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 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

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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