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

When the flu is caught early, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral to help shorten your illness and lower your odds of serious complications. Korin Miller, SELF, "What You Need to Know About Xofluza, the New Flu Medicine," 26 Oct. 2018 Cartiva is also being tested for thumbs that are painful and shortened by arthritis, says Phillip Sauvé, an orthopedic surgeon at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, England. Laura Johannes, WSJ, "Synthetic Materials Can Replace Cartilage in Your Aching Joints," 16 Sep. 2018 Those timelines are being shortened to 30 days and 60 days. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "FCC sides with Google Fiber over Comcast with new pro-competition rule," 2 Aug. 2018 Shorter workouts that combine strength training and conditioning could be put together to help shorten the time needed to train. Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A trainer's advice for parents on the go hoping to stay fit," 12 June 2018 One option is Valtrex, an over-the-counter pill that can help shorten and prevent flare-ups. Hannah Orenstein, Seventeen, ""I Have a Cold Sore. Does That Mean I Have Herpes?"," 7 Oct. 2016 Moving to single-elimination throughout would also shorten the playoffs to avoid the mid-November FIFA international break that slows momentum and fan interest. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Sounders hope to avoid becoming latest MLS second-round playoff upset victim," 7 Nov. 2018 Freezing temperatures will shorten the life of anything plastic. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "How to Winterize Your Pool," 25 Oct. 2018 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

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

13 Dec 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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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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a nest or breeding place

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