\ ˈsmȯl How to pronounce small (audio) \

Definition of small

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : having comparatively little size or slight dimensions
b : lowercase
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
b : humble, modest
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

Other Words from small


smallish \ ˈsmȯ-​lish How to pronounce small (audio) \ adjective
smallness \ ˈsmȯl-​nəs How to pronounce small (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.” See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The victims were found around 10 a.m. PT on Sunday by fire personnel battling the McKinney Fire that has consumed more than 55,000 acres around Yreka, Calif., a small community in the northern part of the state. Ginger Adams Otis, WSJ, 1 Aug. 2022 Everybody’s going to die, but only a very small percentage can be donors. John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 July 2022 This is the story of how 12-year-old Jan Broberg was abducted (twice) in her small church community in Idaho in 1974. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 30 July 2022 Only a relatively small percentage of hospital intensive care unit beds around the country are taken up by COVID-19 patients. Alexander Tin, CBS News, 27 July 2022 Lindsay Walker says the lack of available trials and the fact that most people with dementia and Alzheimer’s aren’t diagnosed early means a very small percentage will have access to AJU. Laura Johnston, cleveland, 26 July 2022 Despite being challenged by rugged terrain and temperatures ranging from the high 90s to 100 degrees, firefighters managed to save the small community of Mariposa Pines, on the north edge of the fire, according to Cal Fire. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 25 July 2022 Crews on the ground protected homes as air tankers dropped retardant on 50-foot flames racing along ridgetops east of the small community of Jerseydale. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 25 July 2022 The blaze started Friday in the Sierra Nevada foothills near the small community of Midpines. Amanda Taylor,, 24 July 2022 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,, 13 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 In the sweet black-and-white photo captured by Chris Jackson, Kate could be seen gently placing her hand on the small of her husband's back. Nicole Briese,, 2 June 2022 One thing that works to discourage ants is to hang a small can between the hook on the eaves and the feeder. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 27 May 2022 The design of each office was also planned for small-to-mid-sized businesses, as opposed to larger companies or larger projects that could have used the same space. Steve Smith, Hartford Courant, 21 Apr. 2022 The recession buffeted all manner of small-to-mid-sized arts organizations, and the Consort navigated some confusion surrounding its affiliation with the Newberry Library after spinning out. Hannah Edgar,, 20 Apr. 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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near small



small ad

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Small.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for small


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on small

Nglish: Translation of small for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of small for Arabic Speakers


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