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

Keep scrolling for more

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.”
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Notre Dame can shorten the game in a hurry if your front seven can’t stand up to the physicality. Christopher Smith, al, "Alabama vs. Notre Dame: Detailed breakdown, betting pick," 30 Dec. 2020 Protocol requires anyone who spends more than 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone that tests positive must quarantine for two weeks, though Jabbia said imminent changes to CDC quarantine policy soon are expected to shorten the quarantine period. Andrew Canulette,, "Jabbia says 405 students have had positive COVID-19 tests since school year began Sept. 8," 4 Dec. 2020 Seasonal affective disorder, also known by its apt acronym, SAD, is a form of depression that some people get for a few months each year, most commonly during the late fall and winter months, as the days shorten. Ryan Prior, CNN, "How to guard against seasonal affective disorder in the pandemic's winter months," 14 Oct. 2020 What to know about it Once he was hospitalized, Trump's doctors began him on a course of remdesivir, a prominent experimental drug in the fight against the coronavirus that some clinical trials have shown can shorten the duration of the illness. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, "Trump is receiving lots of medical care. Some doctors wonder if it's too much.," 4 Oct. 2020 Driving into one will shorten its life considerably. Washington Post, "Bright idea: Yellow grids make utility poles more visible at night," 5 Sep. 2020 There was concern earlier this fall the companies or the government would try to shorten the vaccine development process by relying on interim effectiveness results. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, "Moderna becomes second company to request emergency FDA authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate," 30 Nov. 2020 Shawnee County will allow people without COVID-19 symptoms who’ve not been tested to shorten their quarantines to 10 days, Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, the county’s health officer, said Thursday. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Travel hypocrisy, street racing, vaccine limitations: News from around our 50 states," 5 Dec. 2020 Musk has suggested using a nuclear reactor at several points in this journey, from on the ship itself to shorten the trip, to on the Red Planet’s surface as a generator. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Elon Musk Swears He'll Send Humans to Mars by 2026. That Seems Impossible.," 3 Dec. 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

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shorten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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