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

Other Words from shorten

shortener \ ˈshȯrt-​nər How to pronounce shorten (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.”
Recent Examples on the Web Fuller asked residents whether the city should keep the regulation, shorten it, or get rid of it altogether. John Hilliard,, 30 Nov. 2021 Adjustable poles are also popular among backcountry users, who will lengthen them on the climb and shorten them for the descent. Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2021 In total, roughly 86% of Iceland’s entire working population has now either moved to working shorter hours, or have gained the right to shorten their working hours, the study says. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 8 July 2021 Wisconsin wildlife officials are considering revising wolf regulations to prohibit night hunting and shorten the window for registering kills after hunters blew past their quota in February. Todd Richmond, Star Tribune, 13 May 2021 With consumer habits shifting heavily towards at-home options, some theaters made deals with studios to shorten that window. Adam Epstein, Quartz, 5 May 2021 School officials are toying with the idea of consolidating bus routes in an attempt to shorten travels time in the morning and afternoon, according to OCS. Jason Gonzalez, The Courier-Journal, 29 June 2022 The House That Lars Built crafted this awesome (not to mention, easy) iron-on costume to shorten your crafting time. Cameron Jenkins, Good Housekeeping, 25 May 2022 Get some pre-read and pre-work done and shorten time together to be focused on meaty discussion and debate. Rodger Dean Duncan, Forbes, 20 May 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of shorten

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

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Time Traveler for shorten

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near shorten

short-eared owl


short end

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shorten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for shorten


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on shorten

Nglish: Translation of shorten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shorten for Arabic Speakers


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