short·​en | \ ˈshȯr-tᵊn How to pronounce shorten (audio) \
shortened; shortening\ ˈshȯrt-​niŋ How to pronounce shorten (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 shorten (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 Some 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes are eligible to earn good behavior credits in an effort to shorten their sentence by one-third, rather than the usual 80%. Fox News, 15 May 2021 Micron’s CoEs connect different business functions — including R&D, product engineering, human resources, procurement and supply chain management — to speed up cycle times and shorten delivery times. Peter Cohan, Forbes, 11 May 2021 More than 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes will be eligible for good behavior credits to shorten their sentence by one-third, instead of the one-fifth rule that was in place since 2017, the Associated Press reported. Marlene Lenthang, ABC News, 1 May 2021 With vaccinations up and case counts down, doctors are administering less convalescent plasma, as numerous clinical trials found the treatment does not significantly lower Covid-19 mortality or shorten hospital stays. Ryan Prior, CNN, 24 Apr. 2021 The first British bombe machines were operating in Bletchley Park by 1940, helping to shorten the codebreaking process by discovering some of the daily settings on the Enigma machines that were used to encrypt Axis military traffic. San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Mar. 2021 Wisconsin plans to shorten its English, math and science tests by 70 to 80 minutes, officials said. Erin Richards, USA TODAY, 25 Feb. 2021 Logging companies did not use this invention, however, to shorten the workweek by 90 percent. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, 28 Dec. 2020 The offseason was notable in that MLB tried but failed to get the players to shorten the season and start it later, as well as for anti-player sentiment coming from Kevin Mather that cost Mather his job as president of the Seattle Mariners., 26 Mar. 2021

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

16 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shorten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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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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