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

The Television Academy wanted to shorten the broadcast by cutting some awards from the show, including winners in the writing and directing categories. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Reminder: don’t schedule your Emmys party for Sunday," 14 Sep. 2018 The dangerous smoke — from wood, dung or charcoal fires used by 3 billion people in villages and slums across Africa, Central America and Asia — was estimated by health officials to shorten millions of lives every year. Sara Morrison, USA TODAY, "In developing world, an expensive push to reduce cooking fire deaths falls short," 13 July 2018 It is expected to shorten travel from Boone County in Kentucky to Rising Sun from a one-hour drive to just a few minutes. Melissa Reinert,, "Ferry christened: Casino tries Lady Luck to boost business," 12 July 2018 Alternatively, the court could clarify its mandate by allowing the vetting process to be shortened, the government argued. NBC News, "Trump admin asks for more time to reunite kids and parents separated at border," 6 July 2018 In the end, the group agreed to keep the daily bag limit at five but to shorten the season. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: With West Nile a threat and numbers down, the ruffed grouse season will end early," 27 June 2018 Earlier, race officials had posted plans to shorten the swimming and cycling part of the race in order to complete it between storm cells. David Sharos, Naperville Sun, "Naperville Women's Triathlon cancelled Sunday due to weather concerns," 10 June 2018 Sporadic rain showers meant NASCAR had to not only shorten the practice laps for Cup Series drivers, but also cancel several events. Brendan Marks, charlotteobserver, "The pole-sitter wasn't the only surprise at the NASCAR All-Star Race on Friday | Charlotte Observer," 18 May 2018 His season was shortened last year because of a rib injury. Ron Higgins,, "2017 Zurich runners-up Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown ready for revenge in 2018," 12 Apr. 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

15 Nov 2018

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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).


full of whispering sounds

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