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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Both of them played in the morning, before the links began to get drier and a little bouncier., 16 July 2021 The dishes tasted little like their originals, and seemed more united as their own cuisine, born straight from the mind of Eve Collins. Andi Berlin, The Arizona Republic, 16 July 2021 Suns guard Devin Booker had 42 points but got little backup from his team mates, none of whom were able to crack double-digits in the first half. Reuters, CNN, 15 July 2021 And who doesn't need a little break from the city every now and again? Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 15 July 2021 Banfield hopes her team’s discovery will lead other researchers to look for Borgs in their favorite microbes, particularly those in environments with little to no oxygen. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, 15 July 2021 The show centers on an American football coach who takes charge of an elite British soccer team in England despite having little knowledge of the game. Mark Kennedy, Star Tribune, 15 July 2021 Such basic policy changes, however, mean little to the families of those who lost mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandchildren and friends. Mike Kelly, USA TODAY, 15 July 2021 Tramonte and others had been attempting to reach Davis to ask for an extension to move the fridge, but with little luck. Rachel Ryan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 15 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb To that point, Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to make the sport itself a little more thrilling. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 13 July 2021 The Taliban has little more than rocket launchers and a fleet of pickups. New York Times, 7 July 2021 While Giannis Antetokounmpo is back for the Bucks, Ducey and Gallego might feel a little more confident about their bets. Christopher Kuhagen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7 July 2021 Amini, who was regarded as the most technically gifted player in the women's game in Iran, says that she and the female team were made to feel as if their status was little more than token. Don Riddell, CNN, 1 July 2021 Lace up into something a little more comfortable this season and shop summer-ready canvas sneakers, below. Madeline Fass, Vogue, 2 July 2021 The Phoenix Zoo's tiger exhibit just got a little more crowded. Michael Donohue, The Arizona Republic, 1 July 2021 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is keeping things a little more exclusive than before. Nate Jones, Vulture, 1 July 2021 And the answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, 30 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If patching and recoating seems like too much trouble to repair the small chip, another option would be to simply grind off a little of the rough edge to create a tidier, beveled corner. Washington Post, 28 June 2021 Manasseh did a little of everything for his baseball team providing strong pitching, hitting, base running and fielding. Emmett Hall,, 3 June 2021 The Pirates were swept by UConn to close the regular season, but Seton Hall's a balanced team that can do a little of everything. Adam Baum, The Enquirer, 24 May 2021 Everyone could see a little of these two nihilists in themselves. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, 14 Apr. 2021 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, 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, 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, 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, 13 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About little

Time Traveler for little

Time Traveler

The first known use of little was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near little



little anteater

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for little

Last Updated

17 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Little.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on little

Nglish: Translation of little for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of little for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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