short·en | \ ˈshȯr-tᵊn \
shortened; shortening\ˈshȯrt-niŋ, 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, 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

After a forgettable Spurs-Knicks Finals in 1999 — a season shortened by labor issues — the Lakers returned to greatness. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Golden State Warriors just copying the path of past NBA champs," 5 July 2018 Arizona is problematic in another way for Republicans: The late, Aug. 28 primary turns the general election into a 10-week sprint, and that time frame is further shortened by extensive early voting by mail. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "The new trustbusters," 3 July 2018 Using political advertising data, Chen and Rohla found that cross-partisan Thanksgiving dinners were further shortened by around 2.6 min on average for every 1,000 political advertisements aired in the traveler’s home media market. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "How Smartphones Proved the 2016 Election Ruined Thanksgiving," 1 June 2018 Republicans shortened their visits to Democratic hosts by about 50 to 70 minutes. NBC News, "Did Trump ruin Thanksgiving? Study shows 2016 election split families," 31 May 2018 Atiya, a junior lefthander, pitched a three-hitter with five strikeouts in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule. Phil Anastasia,, "Eli Atiya powers Cherry Hill West baseball past Timber Creek," 30 May 2018 That ends the college career for the 6-7, 225-pound forward that was shortened by a shoulder injury midway through last season. Don Markus,, "Maryland's Kevin Huerter will declare for NBA draft but will not sign with an agent," 20 Apr. 2018 South Alabama was shut out for the first time in more than a year in a 12-0 loss at Coastal Carolina on Sunday, a game shortened to seven innings by mercy rule. Creg Stephenson,, "South Alabama shut out by Coastal Carolina in series finale, 12-0," 8 Apr. 2018 The Rockets’ night, however, was shortened by the NBA schedule that had them go from Brooklyn to Miami for a back-to-back. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "3-pointers: Takeaways from the Rockets' win against the Heat," 8 Feb. 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

20 Sep 2018

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 \
shortened; shortening

Kids Definition of shorten

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

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Comments on shorten

What made you want to look up shorten? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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