short·​en | \ ˈshȯr-tᵊn How to pronounce shorten (audio) \
shortened; shortening\ ˈshȯrt-​niŋ How to pronounce shortening (audio) , ˈshȯr-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of shorten

transitive verb

1a : to reduce the length or duration of
b : to cause to seem short
2a : to reduce in power or efficiency is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem — Isaiah 50:2 (Revised Standard Version)
b obsolete : to deprive of effect
3 : to add fat to (something, such as pastry dough) in order to make tender and flaky

intransitive verb

: to become short or shorter

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Other Words from shorten

shortener \ ˈshȯrt-​nər How to pronounce shortener (audio) , ˈshȯr-​tᵊn-​ər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for shorten

shorten, curtail, abbreviate, abridge, retrench mean to reduce in extent. shorten implies reduction in length or duration. shorten a speech curtail adds an implication of cutting that in some way deprives of completeness or adequacy. ceremonies curtailed because of rain abbreviate implies a making shorter usually by omitting some part. using an abbreviated title abridge implies a reduction in compass or scope with retention of essential elements and a relative completeness in the result. the abridged version of the novel retrench suggests a reduction in extent or costs of something felt to be excessive. declining business forced the company to retrench

Examples of shorten in a Sentence

shorten a pair of pants He had to shorten the speech. “Franklin D. Roosevelt” is often shortened to “FDR.”
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Recent Examples on the Web Extracting more juice will shorten the life of the batteries. Barry Winfield, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1997 General Motors EV1 Proves to Be the Start of Something Big," 24 June 2020 The odds on Tap It to Win as the second favorite continued to slowly shorten on Saturday morning, moving from 5-1 at 8 to 9-2 at 9 and 4-1 at 10. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Belmont Stakes 2020 updated odds: Tiz the Law at 6-5 again," 20 June 2020 During the peak, that will actually shorten to just over 30 seconds. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Solar eclipse 2020: How and when to watch the June annular eclipse," 19 June 2020 And closing a prison is quicker, and less controversial, than passing a bill to shorten future prison sentences (or offer good-time credits for current prisoners) in the hopes of reducing incarceration down the road. Dara Lind, ProPublica, "The Prison Was Built to Hold 1,500 Inmates. It Had Over 2,000 Coronavirus Cases.," 18 June 2020 Some of the largest U.S. financial institutions will shorten their workday this Friday, joining companies including Target Corp., Allstate Corp. and Nike Inc. in commemorating Juneteenth, the day that marks the effective end of American slavery. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Comerica, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One among major banks shortening Juneteenth workday," 17 June 2020 Debris left in the water can rot and shorten the life of your blooms. Southern Living, "How To Keep Cut Roses Alive," 17 June 2020 The survey found: 57% said Michigan should wait to reopen the economy to shorten the public health crisis, even if that means the economic crisis lasts longer. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Poll: Michiganders fear second wave of coronavirus, support Gov. Whitmer's orders," 8 June 2020 Remdesivir, which has an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, has been shown in some early studies to shorten hospital stays for people with COVID-19. Ed Hammond,, "AstraZeneca approaches Gilead about merging," 7 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shorten.' 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 shorten

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for shorten

Time Traveler

The first known use of shorten was in the 14th century

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Statistics for shorten

Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shorten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for shorten


How to pronounce shorten (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shorten

: to become shorter
: to make (something) shorter


short·​en | \ ˈshȯr-tᵊn How to pronounce shorten (audio) \
shortened; shortening

Kids Definition of shorten

: to make or become short or shorter I shortened my trip.

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More from Merriam-Webster on shorten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shorten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shorten

Spanish Central: Translation of shorten

Nglish: Translation of shorten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shorten for Arabic Speakers

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