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 intensivewhy, 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 ahad 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 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



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 littleness (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 On display against Holy Cross will be a team that appears to have decent top-line talent but little depth. Mike Anthony,, "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,, "Comment here on 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,, "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 To be clear: Drinking—even a little more than usual right now—isn't a crime. Claire Gillespie,, "Memes About Drinking During Quarantine Are Everywhere—But They're Actually Really Problematic," 13 May 2020 The Taiwan dollar ended little changed Friday, rising for an eighth week in its longest winning streak since 2013. Samson Ellis,, "Tsai Looks Set for Landslide Win in Taiwan Presidential Vote," 12 May 2020 By way of comparison, during 2009 , the first year of the Great Recession, RTA saw a 10.9 percent reduction in sales tax, or a little more than $17 million. Peter Krouse, cleveland, "Greater Cleveland RTA expecting huge reductions in fare collections and sales tax revenue," 12 May 2020 The trio had to tweak their travel plans for Archie's birthday due to the COVID-19 pandemic and like most people with birthdays around this time, keep celebrations a little more close knit and simple. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Wore a Casual Denim Shirt to Read Archie a Story on His Birthday," 6 May 2020 White Democrats are a little more likely than black Democrats to think a black nominee would help the ticket's chances. Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, CBS News, "CBS News poll: Elizabeth Warren tops Democrats' wish list for Biden's vice president," 4 May 2020 The treatment for dengue, like the treatment for uncomplicated Covid-19, is little more than supportive care. Lakshmi Ramachandran, STAT, "A service trip to Peru offers lessons for treating Covid-19 in the U.S.," 2 May 2020 Vipers are a little simpler-looking—one engine, one vertical tail fin. Rob Verger, Popular Science, "Everything to know about the fighter jets in the ‘America Strong’ flyovers," 1 May 2020 For nearly any child (and most adults!), wearing face masks can feel scary and uncomfortable, especially for those who have never worn them before now — which is why Disney is working to make the experience just a little more magical. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, "Here's Where You Can Buy Disney's New Cloth Face Masks Featuring Characters Like Mickey and Baby Yoda," 30 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And who doesn’t need a little controlled drama in life? Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Of Course People Are Streaming Movies Right Now—That Doesn’t Mean It’s the New Normal," 29 Apr. 2020 According to Payne, elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol may also play a role in wacky quarantine dreams by causing them to fragment further—and everyone’s a little stressed out right now. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "Why Covid-19 Quarantine Dreams Are Taking Over the Internet," 16 Apr. 2020 Bills called a quick TO -- wonder if Buffalo was a little surprised., "The Patriots scored 13 quick points and held on down the stretch for the 16-10 win over the Bills Sunday in Orchard Park, using a tremendous defensive effort to stay unbeaten.," 30 Sep. 2019 As the monument veers closer to completion, what little was recorded of Dinah’s life will continue to be discussed at Stenton. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Philadelphia Will Memorialize Dinah, an Enslaved Woman Who Saved the City’s Historic Stenton House in 1777," 1 May 2020 If your chickens are fed organically, a little goes a long way in terms of getting healthy, beautiful plants. Trace Barnett, al, "Expert tips for creating a pollinator garden at home," 28 Apr. 2020 Marble racing is actually pretty fun, as live sports go, but a little goes a long way. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Why watching eNASCAR races while social distancing is strangely comforting — to a point," 30 Mar. 2020 The letter seems to have dispelled a little of the tension, though England and Scotland went on fighting. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, "The Ghost of Robert the Bruce and the Scottish Independence Movement," 16 Mar. 2020 Less so for older kids, almost entirely so for the littles, but to some degree across the PK-12 spectrum. The Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax Live: Gusbombing," 10 Apr. 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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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

Cite this Entry

“Little.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for little


How to pronounce little (audio)

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 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for little

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with little

Spanish Central: Translation of little

Nglish: Translation of little for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of little for Arabic Speakers

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