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

Are American players a little more uptight than the European players? Ryan Asselta, SI.com, "A Quick Nine With Tommy Fleetwood," 22 Aug. 2019 Today’s Prius gets about 56 mpg combined (a little better in city driving), while the best-selling vehicle in the United States, the Ford F-150 pickup, gets about 30 mpg on the highway. Randy Essex, Detroit Free Press, "Why Trump is using Henry Ford, gas mileage to call out automakers on Twitter," 22 Aug. 2019 Television Review One of the nice byproducts of Peak TV is that the odds are a little better for the weird shows. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, "Kirsten Dunst breaks bad in ‘Florida,’ and it’s good," 21 Aug. 2019 Compared to spareribs, St. Louis-style ribs are uniform in shape (a beautiful rectangle!) and a little easier to work with. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, "How to Buy the Right Kind of Pork Ribs," 21 Aug. 2019 Dorm mold became a nationwide sensation s little more than three weeks ago after a Facebook page, amn/nco/snco, posted photos of black and green sludge in Lackland living areas for technical training students. Sig Christenson, ExpressNews.com, "Almost one-third of dorm rooms at Joint Base San Antonio had mold, mildew," 17 Aug. 2019 Truth be told, to me there’s little more offensive than body odor. Ramona Sentinel, "Ask Mr. Marketing: You should take a shower," 16 Aug. 2019 DieterMeyrlGetty Images Looking for an end-of-summer trip that’s a little more exciting than tanning by the pool? Jae Thomas, Marie Claire, "The Best National Parks for Every Kind of Vacation," 15 Aug. 2019 For something that feels a little more high end, this Napoleon grill is certainly an upgrade. Kelly Dawson, House Beautiful, "How to Clean a Grill Without Soap and Water," 14 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The fans came strong, giving Bochy a standing ovation which, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, seemed to get the gentle Giant a little choked up. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Bruce Bochy saluted with South Bay IPA bearing his name, brewed by former ballplayer," 31 July 2019 Climate models do project later starts to the rainy season with continued warming (a little of which has already been seen), as well as an increase in swings between wet and dry years. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Warming climate likely leading to larger California fires," 18 July 2019 Hoyt suggests adding roll-down shades or hanging linen or canvas curtains on a tension rod or with zip ties for retractable privacy and a little added protection from bugs. Helen Carefoot, Twin Cities, "Don’t let a small balcony stop you from enjoying the space," 15 July 2019 Exuberant and maybe a little stressed, new and longtime entrants filed into the OC Promenade at the Orange County fairgrounds, toting carts and wagons behind them. Lilly Nguyen, latimes.com, "Decor contestants help set the table for O.C. Fair opening," 11 July 2019 On Friday, Williamson did a little of everything in just nine minutes of playing time, scoring 11 points and grabbing three rebounds while shooting 4 of 9 from the field. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Zion Williamson Lives Up to the Hype, at Least for One Night," 6 July 2019 The new conference schedule means Xavier will lose a little of its non-conference scheduling flexibility and control, especially considering the Musketeers have four long-term deals with Cincinnati, Wake Forest, the Big 12 and the Big Ten. Adam Baum, Cincinnati.com, "What does UConn's return to the Big East Conference mean for the Xavier Musketeers?," 25 June 2019 Summer officially begins with the solstice at 11:54 a.m. Visit Susquehanna State Park or the North Park Trail to experience a little of William Shakespeare's midsummer madness. Ron Browning, baltimoresun.com, "Havre de Grace: Plenty to do as summer officially begins," 21 June 2019 Fleabag has perhaps stolen a little of that final-season momentum from Amazon stablemate Catastrophe, another magnificently prickly small-batch import, though one with two previous Emmy nominations on its CV. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Why Voters Should Give 'Veep,' 'Big Bang Theory' and Other Ending Series One Final Look," 14 June 2019

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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