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

The show had also been dogged by controversial attempts to shorten its runtime. Aja Romano, Vox, "Oscars 2019: winners, nominations, and biggest moments," 12 Dec. 2018 Police Chief Robert Bongiorno said the Bedford Police transitioned to the State 911 Department’s Wireless Direct program, a new system that will shorten public safety response times during emergencies. Jennifer Fenn Lefferts,, "Bedford police modernize 911 system," 16 May 2018 That money is the savings that came from the state's criminal justice overhaul last year that has shortened criminal sentences and parole and probation periods for thousands of people since November. Julia O'donoghue,, "Louisiana criminal justice savings may go to cover existing inmate housing," 9 Apr. 2018 Overcome the tiring, three-and-a-half-hour slog there by using light aircraft from Cancun, which shortens the journey to a lovely (and scenic) 30-minute flight. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "28 Places Our Travel Specialists Say You Should Go in 2019," 17 Dec. 2018 That will mean effectively shortening the term of protection of older music published between 1923 and 1954—under current law, these songs may not fall into the public domain until 2067. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Senate passes copyright bill to end 140-year protection for old songs," 19 Sep. 2018 The next one is scheduled for July 19 against the Cardinals, a made-for-ESPN game that unfairly shortens both teams’ All-Star breaks. Paul Sullivan,, "Cubs schedule quirk sets up enjoyable month of day baseball at Wrigley Field," 3 July 2018 Vader made his major American debut with WCW in 1990 and moved to WWF in 1996, where his name was shortened to just Vader. Dan Gartland,, "Longtime WWE Wrestler Big Van Vader Dead at 63," 20 June 2018 The original event, launched in 2002 by Square Egg founder and CEO Matt Solberg, was called Phoenix Cactus Comicon and later was shortened to Phoenix Comicon. Lita Nadebah Beck, azcentral, "Phoenix Comic Fest changes name to Phoenix Fan Fusion," 27 May 2018

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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Statistics for shorten

Last Updated

5 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shorten

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

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More Definitions for shorten



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shorten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shorten

Spanish Central: Translation of shorten

Nglish: Translation of shorten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shorten for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shorten

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marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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