short·​en | \ ˈshȯr-tᵊn How to pronounce shorten (audio) \
shortened; shortening\ ˈshȯrt-​niŋ How to pronounce shortening (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shorten

shortener \ ˈshȯrt-​nər How to pronounce shortener (audio) , 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.”
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Area coaches honored the top soccer players in Mobile despite a season that was shortened by the coronavirus pandemic. Ben Thomas |, al, "Davidson duo sweeps Mobile County’s top boys soccer awards," 12 May 2020 Matches were best-of-three sets and sets were shortened to the first to four games, with tiebreaks at three-all and next point wins when games reach deuce. Matias Grez, CNN, "Rafael Nadal says 2020 tennis season is 'practically lost' due to coronavirus pandemic," 6 May 2020 The company did say in the memo that hours will be shortened to allow for increased cleaning. Michael Corkery, New York Times, "Biggest Mall Operator in U.S. Plans to Reopen 49 of Them," 28 Apr. 2020 With the 2012-13 season shortened to 48 games because of a labor dispute, the Wings opted to retire Lidstrom’s No. 5 in March 2014. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "From stealing apples to winning 4 Stanley Cups: Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom is 50 today," 28 Apr. 2020 To maintain balance, the front section of the Ruslan's original fuselage was stretched by eight meters, but the aft section was shortened by one meter to compensate for the plane's heavy dual stabilizer. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Why the An-225 Mriya Is Such a Badass Plane," 28 Apr. 2020 Riverdale writer Ted Sullivan confirmed that the season will be shortened back on April 18 while answering fan questions. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "This is When "Riverdale" Season Four is Dropping On Netflix," 23 Apr. 2020 Lunar scientists are already planning potential payloads for Blue Moon, Squyres added, such as the Farside Array for Radio Science Investigations of the Dark Ages and Exoplanets, mercifully shortened to FARSIDE. Leonard David, Scientific American, "Astronomers Battle Space Explorers for Access to Moon’s Far Side," 7 Apr. 2020 Turkish and Russian troops began joint patrols Sunday on a key highway in northwestern Syria, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said, while both the Russian government and Syrian opposition activists said the patrols were shortened because of protests. Washington Post, "World Digest: March 15, 2020," 15 Mar. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of shorten

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shorten

Time Traveler for shorten

Time Traveler

The first known use of shorten was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for shorten

Last Updated

16 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shorten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shorten


How to pronounce shorten (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shorten

: to become shorter
: to make (something) shorter


short·​en | \ ˈshȯr-tᵊn How to pronounce shorten (audio) \
shortened; shortening

Kids Definition of shorten

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shorten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shorten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shorten

Spanish Central: Translation of shorten

Nglish: Translation of shorten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shorten for Arabic Speakers

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!