small-fry

adjective
\ ˈsmȯl-ˌfrī How to pronounce small-fry (audio) \

Definition of small-fry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : minor, unimportant a small-fry politician
2 : of, relating to, or intended for children : childish small-fry sports

small fry

noun
plural small fry or less commonly small fries

Definition of small fry (Entry 2 of 2)

1 US, informal : a child usually pluralIs there really any great difference, one might ask, between that gang of kids playing video games by the hour at their local candy store these days and those small fry who used to hang around together spending equal amounts of time playing marbles?— Marie WinnMothers and fathers, their small fry hopping from ledge to ledge with them, are climbing mountains from the Appalachians to the Rockies.— John DevaneyEver since the giddy '60s … small-screen small fries have made their mark with clean-cut comedy perfect for fans of all ages.— Damian J. Holbrook
2 informal : someone or something considered insignificant or minor These two, with their perfunctory fast handshakes, made Henry feel like the small fry he was …— Herman Wouk usually pluralUnfortunately, however, many of the cases on O'Keefe's list involved insignificant small fry who had cheated the government out of relatively small amounts of money and, in some cases, no money at all.— David Burnham
3 : a recently hatched or juvenile fish usually pluralThe basic strategy hasn't changed much since the first competition in 1903: Catch tiddlers, or small fry. This requires a hook the size of a mosquito's leg, a line as fine as a spider's web—and a rod as much as 36 feet long.— Barry Newman

First Known Use of small-fry

Adjective

1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about small-fry

Statistics for small-fry

Time Traveler for small-fry

The first known use of small-fry was in 1577

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for small-fry

small fry

noun

English Language Learners Definition of small fry

informal
: a child
: people or things that are not important

More from Merriam-Webster on small-fry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for small-fry

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with small-fry

Comments on small-fry

What made you want to look up small-fry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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