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

Instead, stand in front of it, which also shortens the distance to home plate from 60 feet 6 inches to around 50 feet, increasing the odds that your ball will make it to the catcher. Malia Wollan, New York Times, "How to Throw Out a Ceremonial First Pitch," 3 July 2018 Last year, the enrollment period was shortened from 12 to six weeks. Naseem S. Miller,, "Obamacare navigators unsure of funding," 27 June 2018 Mansion Elan filed a lawsuit to stop the shortened bar hours from going into effect on June 5, the same day the City of Chamblee was set to begin enforcing its new hours. Alex Soderstrom, ajc, "Judge upholds reduced alcohol hours in Chamblee," 13 June 2018 Tuesday's vote comes just five months after the period was shortened from five years to three years. Michelle Hunter,, "Suspect who triggered St. Catherine lockdown to face gun, drug charges: JPSO," 3 Apr. 2018 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

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

4 Oct 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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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