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

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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.”
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Recent Examples on the Web New York lawmakers introduced legislation last month that would cap the interest hospitals can recoup on medical debt at 3 percent, instead of 9, and would shorten the statute of limitations to two years from six. Sarah Kliff, New York Times, "With Medical Bills Skyrocketing, More Hospitals Are Suing for Payment," 8 Nov. 2019 Allen ran for 697 yards in the 1982 season, which was shortened to nine games by a labor strike. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Alabama NFL roundup: Josh Jacobs surpasses Marcus Allen," 3 Nov. 2019 Under the proposal, that is shortened to four years. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "UAW Ford officials vote to recommend ratification of tentative agreement," 1 Nov. 2019 The parade route has also since been shortened to two and a half miles instead of six. Martha Sorren, Woman's Day, "How to Watch the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to Get into the Holiday Spirit," 16 Oct. 2019 Run Raging Rhino Run’s won at 870 yards in his last outing and shortens to 330, while Rite Quick won his last two outings at 110 yards and will now compete in this longer distance. Los Angeles Times, "Racing! Santa Anita is back racing today," 27 Sep. 2019 The biggest stumbling block in contract talks had been management’s demand that the season be shortened from 52 weeks to 40. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians reach tentative agreement with management, could perform Friday," 21 Sep. 2019 The Carnival Horizon's Monday departure from Miami was shortened to a two-day trip now slated to start on Thursday, Carnival said Tuesday. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "DisneyWorld, Legoland and other Orlando tourist parks close as Dorian nears Florida," 3 Sep. 2019 Saturday’s scheduled Olympic-distance swim of 1,500 meters had been shortened to 750 meters because of waves and currents, and a 750-meter swim event had been canceled on Friday because of similar conditions. Mike Peticca,, "2019 USA Triathlon Age Group Championships: Sun shines on Cleveland, competitors once again," 11 Aug. 2019

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

15 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for shorten

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

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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.

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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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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