\ ˈsmȯl How to pronounce small (audio) \

Definition of small

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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



Definition of small (Entry 2 of 3)

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



Definition of small (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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Other Words from small


smallish \ ˈsmȯ-​lish How to pronounce smallish (audio) \ adjective
smallness \ ˈsmȯl-​nəs How to pronounce smallness (audio) \ noun

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

Examples of small in a Sentence

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.”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Elisabeth Briggs finds calm in clicking small, interlocking bricks together and turning piles of multicolored plastic into something recognizable. Abha Bhattarai, Washington Post, "Lego sets its sights on a growing market: Stressed-out adults," 16 Jan. 2020 Heroic doses of acid, small forests of mixed herbs, and blasts of spice are year-round constants but dazzle most when paired with otherwise dour winter fare. Carla Perez-gallardo And Hannah Black, Bon Appétit, "6 Tropical-Inspired Recipes That Make Us Forget It's Winter," 15 Jan. 2020 One step would be to reject the preemptive hand-waving doled out to so many acclaimed films, many of them artsier or smaller-scale, that supposedly will never play with Oscar voters for little reason other than tradition. David Sims, The Atlantic, "It’s Time to Rethink What an ‘Oscar-Worthy’ Movie Looks Like," 14 Jan. 2020 The controversy revolves around a small (by Siemens’ standards) €18 million rail contract in a part of Queensland called the Galilee Basin, home to the Carmichael Mine, the country’s biggest planned coal mine. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, "Forget Policymakers. Greta Thunberg and Her Allies are Targeting CEOs Now," 13 Jan. 2020 Many researchers believe the best way to build a habit is to start small, as BJ Fogg, Ph.D., the founder and director of Stanford University’s Behavior Design Lab and co-founder of the Tiny Habits Academy. Molly Longman,, "How To Motivate Yourself To Work Out," 13 Jan. 2020 The satellite can see the transit of the bigger star, which is 10% bigger than the Earth’s Sun, but not the smaller, dimmer star, which is only about one-third of the Sun. Tara Law, Time, "High School NASA Intern Discovers a Planet Orbiting Two Stars," 12 Jan. 2020 These small, rural communities have managed to preserve their cultural identity in spite of the fact that many young people choose to migrate to cities in Western Europe in search of jobs. National Geographic, "What's behind the iconic images of Australia's massive fires?," 10 Jan. 2020 Eggs and other dairy items are the best source, Bauche says, followed by beef liver, shiitake mushrooms, fatty-rich salmon, and beans, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables on a smaller scale. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, "5 Ways Eggs Supercharge Your Health Through Your Diet," 9 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: 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,, "'Dr. 90210' star accepting patients in Orlando," 13 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun By the end of broadcast, Menefee will have several smalls pieces of paper at his feet, each one with information on what happened on each play. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, "The XFL is giving fans in-game access like never before. And that all starts in the TV truck.," 8 Mar. 2020 If not, just be prepared to take the smalls out a minute or two before the bigs to avoid overcooking. Dawn Perry, New York Times, "Do Chicken Breasts Deserve A Comeback?," 27 Feb. 2020 Because insects can be farmed indoors in small, controlled environments they can be reared in urban areas, reducing the impact of transporting the milk to the city. Stephanie Bailey, CNN, "This luxury ice cream is made from insects," 25 July 2019 So, 60 famine years are needed for smalls to make up 90 percent of the population. Quanta Magazine, "Solution: ‘Darwinian Evolution Explains Lamarckism’," 2 June 2017 Millions of city residents line up every morning in their neighborhoods to fill smalls pots of water from the water tankers provided by the state. Swati Gupta, CNN, "Indian water train arrives with desperately needed relief for Chennai," 12 July 2019 If a team switches defensively, he's adept at posting smalls and shooting over top for Tim Duncan-like bank shots. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Bojan Bogdanovic explains why he left the Pacers for the Utah Jazz in free agency," 11 July 2019 Which of the three groups (normals, smalls, Epi2s) will be most successful? Quanta Magazine, "Solution: ‘Darwinian Evolution Explains Lamarckism’," 2 June 2017 Is Keanu intentionally not touching women's waists and the smalls of their backs? Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "People have noticed that Keanu Reeves keeps his hands off women in photos," 13 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of small


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


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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for small


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

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Time Traveler for small

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for small

Cite this Entry

“Small.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for small


How to pronounce small (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of small

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: little in size
: few in number or little in amount
: not very important



English Language Learners Definition of small (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is sold in a small size : something that is smaller than other things of the same kind


\ ˈsmȯl How to pronounce small (audio) \
smaller; smallest

Kids Definition of small

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : little in size a small house
2 : few in numbers or members a small crowd
3 : little in amount a small supply
4 : very young a small child
5 : not very much small success
6 : unimportant There are some small details to work out.
7 : operating on a limited scale small car dealers
8 : very soft and quiet a small voice
9 : not generous : mean
10 : made up of units of little worth small change
11 : humble entry 1 sense 3, modest She came from a small beginning.
12 : lowered in pride After fumbling the ball, I felt pretty small.
13 : being letters that are not capitals

Other Words from small

smallness noun



Kids Definition of small (Entry 2 of 2)

: a part smaller and usually narrower than the rest the small of the back

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More from Merriam-Webster on small

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for small

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with small

Spanish Central: Translation of small

Nglish: Translation of small for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of small for Arabic Speakers

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