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

In total, the First Step Act will let a few thousand inmates — likely around 6,000 to 7,000 — out of prison early once it’s enacted, and slightly shorten prison sentences in the future. German Lopez, Vox, "Congress just passed the most significant criminal justice reform bill in decades," 20 Dec. 2018 Lightly grease a 10-quart nonstick Bundt pan with shortening and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Election Cake," 24 Oct. 2018 And ports on Yemen’s shore might become alternative hubs to Jebel Ali, shortening journeys and avoiding the narrow Strait of Hormuz—especially if war breaks out with Iran. The Economist, "Insecurity complexGulf states fear being encircled by Iran and abandoned by America," 21 June 2018 Wrinkles: No kickoffs, to reduce injuries and shorten game time. Tom Krasovic,, "Martz hires coaches, personnel man for San Diego AAF team," 31 May 2018 The provisions included shortening the time between when workers petition for a vote on unionization and when the vote happens, leaving less time for companies to urge workers to stay union-free., "The Newest Weapons Against Unions Are Employees," 2 Apr. 2018 There are new measures in place for this season, such as limiting mound visits and shortening the time between innings. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Can the Houston Astros repeat? Here are 5 storylines for the 2018 MLB season | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 23 Mar. 2018 The layout of the course is reportedly being tweaked to improve sightlines and shorten the setup/teardown time. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "2018 IndyCar preview: 5 things to know before June duals in Detroit," 11 Mar. 2018 Borden suggests that shortening the time between inspections would keep restaurants from growing lax with hygiene. Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Yelp’s food-safety alerts steer diners away from dirty restaurants, but also spark controversy," 8 Mar. 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

11 Jan 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 \
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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someone who never drinks alcohol

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