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 haul rope, used to propel the tram cabins from one station to the other, stretches over time and must be shortened approximately every 18 months., "Portland Wednesday traffic: Pole down causes major MAX line delays through the morning commute," 3 July 2019 And in a sign of the times, the SVCF is in the process of shortening that rule to three years. Theodore Schleifer, Vox, "Today’s “working robber barons” have used a tax break to create a $110 billion charity stockpile, called donor-advised funds. It isn’t getting any smaller.," 2 July 2019 Some companies have employees work 10-hour days, while others shorten the number of hours worked each week to 32. Kathryn Vasel, CNN, "Four day work weeks sound too good to be true. These companies make it work," 1 July 2019 Warren Preston, deputy chief economist for the Department of Agriculture, said extraordinarily wet conditions across the Corn Belt, combined with a cool spring, have shortened the planting season and the number of growing degree days. Daniel Cusick, Scientific American, "No End in Sight for Record Midwest Flood Crisis," 26 June 2019 Previous studies have also suggested that the physical strain associated with active jobs may shorten workers’ lifespans. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Sitting Is Bad for Your Health, But Not All Types of Sitting Were Created Equal," 26 June 2019 One of the apps allows agents to make on-the-spot offers for franchisee or licensee deals through their phones to hotel owners, shortening a process that can take large hotel chains weeks. Corinne Abrams, WSJ, "Oyo Has Remade India’s Hotel Business. Now It Is Going Global.," 23 June 2019 Yet the overall trend lines point to a system that continues to build on early successes and makes progress every year toward preventing and shortening homelessness across the state, homelessness and mental health experts said. Zach Murdock,, "Connecticut’s homeless population has reached an all-time low, according to a new report," 21 June 2019 Twenty years ago, ropes to the summit were fixed by the end of April, but these days the ropes sometimes aren’t in place until the middle of May. This shortens the opportunities to summit by at least two weeks and contributes to overcrowding. Mark Jenkins, Outside Online, "How to Fix Everest," 20 June 2019

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

12 Jul 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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characterized by aphorism

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