lit·​tle | \ ˈli-tᵊl How to pronounce little (audio) \
littler\ ˈli-​tᵊl-​ər How to pronounce little (audio) , ˈlit-​lər \ or less\ ˈles How to pronounce little (audio) \ or lesser\ ˈle-​sər How to pronounce little (audio) \; littlest\ ˈli-​tᵊl-​əst How to pronounce little (audio) , ˈlit-​ləst \ or least\ ˈlēst How to pronounce little (audio) \

Definition of little

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : not big: such as
a : small in size or extent : tiny has little feet
b : young was too little to remember
c of a plant or animal : small in comparison with related forms used in vernacular names
d : having few members or inhabitants a little group little towns
e : small in condition, distinction, or scope big business trampling on the little fellow
f : narrow, mean the pettiness of little minds
g : pleasingly small a cute little thing
h used as an intensive why, you little devil!
2 : not much: such as
a : existing only in a small amount or to a slight degree has little money
b : short in duration : brief There is little time left.
c : existing to an appreciable though not extensive degree or amount used with a had a little money in the bank
3 : small in importance or interest : trivial a few little problems to be dealt with


less\ ˈles How to pronounce little (audio) \; least\ ˈlēst How to pronounce little (audio) \

Definition of little (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : in only a small quantity or degree : slightly facts that were little known at the time
b : not at all cared little for their neighbors



Definition of little (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a small amount, quantity, or degree also : practically nothing little has changed
2a : a short time
b : a short distance
a little
: somewhat, rather found the play a little dull
in little
: on a small scale especially : in miniature

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Other Words from little


littleness \ ˈli-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce little (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for little


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 little in a Sentence

Adjective I have very little money, so I can't lend you any. I have less money than I did before. I got very little sleep last night. There's little hope of a rescue now. You have little choice but to pay attention. The new version bears little resemblance to the original. These programs have very little chance of succeeding. These trinkets have little or no value. We're having a little party this weekend. a little group of people Adverb She works very little and sleeps even less. Please speak as little as possible. We had little more than we needed. His art is little known in this country. Noun there's just a little of the pie left
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The delivery market is also competitive and there is little to differentiate the major players besides delivering food at the lowest price possible. Trefis Team, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 To have that much success using a concept or hitting the boundary during the course of a game with little to no adjustment is a credit to Oregon and a massive knock on Ohio State. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 13 Sep. 2021 But things may still look a little different this year: All attendees must be fully vaccinated from COVID-19 and must wear masks except when eating and drinking. Editors, USA TODAY, 13 Sep. 2021 If the guy has ever doubted himself, even a little, I’d be stunned. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 13 Sep. 2021 Yangban Society, Los Angeles Katianna and John Hong have relocated south to LA from the Bay Area to create a new restaurant that’s a little more casual than their fine dining background. Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, 13 Sep. 2021 But until now little was known about which transportation method was better for rhino well-being. Sara Spary, CNN, 10 Sep. 2021 For much of this year, the U.S. auto industry has been grappling with a devastating chip shortage that has cut production at dozens of U.S. car factories and left dealerships with little to sell. Nora Naughton, WSJ, 10 Sep. 2021 To say that little is known about these creatures is something of an understatement. Peter Andrey Smith, STAT, 10 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb All of those things are a little more complicated for Emily Austin. Josh Weiss, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 Murray then moved up, then moved back, and after a little more wiggling, flung a pass that went for a huge, 18-yard gain to rookie receiver Rondale Moore (four catches, 68 yards). Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, 13 Sep. 2021 Ta Kung Pao, a newspaper little known outside of Hong Kong, but one with a long history and which is rapidly growing in influence. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, 9 Sep. 2021 Among the first day moves that Biden made upon taking office on January 20 was firing Peter Robb as general counsel of the NLRB, a powerful position little known outside of labor law circles. Chris Isidore, CNN, 6 Sep. 2021 Jacobs was little known before storming to the fastest time in an Olympic final by a man not named Bolt. New York Times, 2 Aug. 2021 The epochs prior to the rise of the giant tyrannosaurs are still little-known, and shifts may have occurred in that time period that favored the tyrant dinosaurs. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Aug. 2021 The program, which began as a pilot, is little known. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, 30 July 2021 The names of Gorgidas and Pammenes are little known even to readers familiar with ancient Greece. James Romm, WSJ, 29 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If patching and recoating seems like too much trouble to repair the small chip, another option would be to simply grind off a little of the rough edge to create a tidier, beveled corner. Washington Post, 28 June 2021 Manasseh did a little of everything for his baseball team providing strong pitching, hitting, base running and fielding. Emmett Hall,, 3 June 2021 The Pirates were swept by UConn to close the regular season, but Seton Hall's a balanced team that can do a little of everything. Adam Baum, The Enquirer, 24 May 2021 Everyone could see a little of these two nihilists in themselves. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, 14 Apr. 2021 Transfer the pork to a plate, spoon a little of the remaining dressing over, cover with another plate or foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2021 Oladipo debuts for Miami Victor Oladipo, another major trade deadline acquisition, made his debut Thursday for the Miami Heat and did a little of everything in a 116-109 win over the Golden State Warriors. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, 2 Apr. 2021 Bring a little of the Asian nation home to you with a monthly delivery of Japanese snacks, teas and candies. Lesley Kennedy, CNN Underscored, 24 Mar. 2021 The junior guard did a little of everything, adding seven assists, six rebounds, and five steals in the title game. Tom Withers, Star Tribune, 13 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'little.' 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 little


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


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


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

History and Etymology for little

Adjective, Adverb, and Noun

Middle English littel, from Old English lȳtel; akin to Old High German luzzil little

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Learn More About little

Time Traveler for little

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near little



little anteater

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Statistics for little

Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Little.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for little



English Language Learners Definition of little

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: small in size
: not tall : short
: small in amount



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

: in a very small amount or degree
: hardly at all : not very much
: not very often


lit·​tle | \ ˈli-tᵊl How to pronounce little (audio) \
littler\ ˈlit-​lər \ or less\ ˈləs \; littlest\ ˈlit-​ləst \ or least\ ˈlēst \

Kids Definition of little

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : small in size a little house
2 : small in quantity They had little food to eat.
3 : young entry 1 sense 1 little children
4 : short in duration or extent We had a little chat.
5 : small in importance It's a little problem.


less\ ˈles \; least\ ˈlēst \

Kids Definition of little (Entry 2 of 3)

: in a very small quantity or degree The history is little known.
little by little
: by small steps or amounts : gradually



Kids Definition of little (Entry 3 of 3)

: a small amount or quantity She knows very little.


lit·​tle | \ ˈlit-ᵊl How to pronounce little (audio) \
littler\ ˈlit-​ᵊl-​ər, ˈlit-​lər How to pronounce little (audio) \ or less\ ˈles How to pronounce little (audio) \ or lesser\ ˈles-​ər How to pronounce little (audio) \; littlest\ ˈlit-​ᵊl-​əst, ˈlit-​ləst How to pronounce little (audio) \ or least\ ˈlēst How to pronounce little (audio) \

Medical Definition of little

: not big: as
a : small in size or extent has little feet
b of a plant or animal : small in comparison with related forms used in vernacular names

More from Merriam-Webster on little

Nglish: Translation of little for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of little for Arabic Speakers


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