small

1 of 3

adjective

1
a
: having comparatively little size or slight dimensions
b
2
a
: minor in influence, power, or rank
b
: operating on a limited scale
3
: lacking in strength
a small voice
4
a
: little or close to zero in an objectively measurable aspect (such as quantity)
b
: made up of few or little units
5
a
: of little consequence : trivial
b
6
: limited in degree
7
a
: mean, petty
b
: reduced to a humiliating position
smallish adjective
smallness noun

small

2 of 3

adverb

1
: in or into small pieces
2
: without force or loudness
speak as small as you willWilliam Shakespeare
3
: in a small manner

small

3 of 3

noun

1
: a part smaller and especially narrower than the remainder
the small of the back
2
a
smalls plural : small-sized products
b
smalls plural, chiefly British : smallclothes
especially : underwear
Choose the Right Synonym for small

small, little, diminutive, minute, tiny, miniature mean noticeably below average in size.

small and little are often interchangeable, but small applies more to relative size determined by capacity, value, number.

a relatively small backyard

little is more absolute in implication often carrying the idea of petiteness, pettiness, insignificance, or immaturity.

your pathetic little smile

diminutive implies abnormal smallness.

diminutive bonsai plants

minute implies extreme smallness.

a minute amount of caffeine in the soda

tiny is an informal equivalent to minute.

tiny cracks formed in the painting

miniature applies to an exactly proportioned reproduction on a very small scale.

a dollhouse with miniature furnishings

Example Sentences

Adjective They live in a small house. a small glass of soda She moved to a smaller town. The toy is small enough to fit in my pocket. This room is a little smaller than that one. The movie was a small success. There are still a few small details we have to deal with. It's only a small mistake. The change had only a small impact on the community. Noun These shirts are all smalls. “What size ice-cream cones do you want?” “We'll take three larges and a small.” See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Keep in mind, however, that a number of reviewers mention the tool is quite small and may be more difficult to maneuver. Sam Peters, ELLE, 21 Jan. 2023 The closure of some small offices, and the release of a new employee evaluation system that was seen as a way to identify underperformers, signaled to many workers that the company was preparing for layoffs. Nico Grant, New York Times, 20 Jan. 2023 The closure of some small offices, and the release of a new employee evaluation system that was seen as a way to identify underperforming employees to cut, signaled to many workers that the company was preparing for layoffs. Adam Satariano, BostonGlobe.com, 20 Jan. 2023 The Paxlovid findings did not come out of a clinical trial, and were focused on patients at high risk of developing severe, acute COVID; the metformin data did come out of a clinical trial, but the study was small. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 19 Jan. 2023 Experts say that Make Sunsets’ SO2 release was small enough not to constitute an environmental danger, but many have criticized the company for attempting to profit off largely untested science. Time, 19 Jan. 2023 Robertson said hydrogen molecules are very small and leak easily from pipes and vessels normally used to carry gas. Hilary Whiteman, CNN, 18 Jan. 2023 The couple traded the Tesla Model 3 for a Tesla Model Y because the sedan was just too small and the all-electric SUV was more practical. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, 18 Jan. 2023 That difference is small, said Dr. Alberto Espay, a neurologist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and below the threshold of what would be clinically meaningful to a patient. Berkeley Lovelace Jr., NBC News, 18 Jan. 2023
Adverb
The duo is starting small, performing their procedures at the outpatient surgery facility Endo-Surgical Center of Florida on North Dean Road. Naseem S. Miller, OrlandoSentinel.com, 13 May 2017
Noun
With Maxi Kleber out with right ankle soreness, Dallas played long stretches of small-ball. Dallas News, 3 Mar. 2022 Inmates wear drug dispensers at the small of their back. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, 15 June 2022 Jenner went without any accessories except a small over the shoulder black bag. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 9 Oct. 2022 Later, a female worker came up behind her and put her hand on the small of Barraza’s back and asked her a question. Stephen Rodrick, Rolling Stone, 20 Sep. 2022 His hand went to the small of my back, tracing the space just above my tailbone. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 12 May 2022 Bring the other hand to the small of your back with your palm up, or to the back of your neck with the palm down. Amanda Loudin, Outside Online, 16 Dec. 2019 All of these are delivered through a pack surgically implanted in the small of the prisoners’ backs. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 16 June 2022 In fact, even the big guys are jumping on the small-is-mighty bandwagon. Paul Brady, Travel + Leisure, 11 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'small.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English smal, from Old English smæl; akin to Old High German smal small, Greek mēlon small domestic animal

First Known Use

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of small was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near small

Cite this Entry

“Small.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/small. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

small

1 of 3 adjective
1
: little in size
2
: little in amount
a small supply
3
: not very much : minor
small success
4
: not important
a small matter
5
: operating on a limited scale
small dealers
6
: soft entry 1 sense 1c
a small voice
7
: not generous : mean, petty
a small nature
8
: made up of few or little units
a small crowd
9
: humble entry 1 sense 1, modest
a small beginning
10
: having been humiliated or humbled
felt very small to be caught cheating
smallish adjective
smallness noun

small

2 of 3 adverb
1
: in or into small pieces
cut the meat small
2
: in a small manner
most businesses begin small

small

3 of 3 noun
: a part smaller and especially narrower than the rest
the small of the back

More from Merriam-Webster on small

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY