Definition of little in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlidl/


1Small in size, amount, or degree (often used to convey an appealing diminutiveness or express an affectionate or condescending attitude): the plants will grow into little bushes a little puppy dog a boring little man he’s a good little worker
More example sentences
  • There's always a little old man sat behind the counter, and no one ever seems to be in there.
  • While a little black spot on the sun may seem like a simple act, the transit of Venus is not.
  • All he needed to do now was to point his telescope at the sun all day and look for a little black spot.
small, small-scale, compact;
mini, miniature, tiny, minute, minuscule;
toy, baby, pocket, undersized, dwarf, midget, wee
informal teeny-weeny, teensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy, itty-bitty, little-bitty, half-pint, vest-pocket, li'l, micro
short, small, slight, petite, diminutive, tiny;
elfin, dwarfish, midget, pygmy, Lilliputian
informal teeny-weeny, pint-sized, peewee
1.1(Of a person) young or younger: my little brother when she was little she was always getting into scrapes
More example sentences
  • He had played a big role in my life since I was little so he would always be a part of my life.
  • It's funny that my favorite thing when I was little is no longer my favorite thing at all.
  • Finding someone close to the perfect person is never as easy as you are led to believe when you're little.
young, younger, junior, small, baby, infant
1.2Denoting something, especially a place, that is named after a similar larger one: New York’s Little Italy
More example sentences
  • It'll also be named after London - Little London - and it'll also go out of business in a hurry.
  • Whether you live in the suburbs or in the vital enclaves of a Little India, you are a part of America and American life.
  • In 1929 the group broke away and moved into the Little Germany Theatre - then called the Civic.
1.3Used in names of animals and plants that are smaller than related kinds, e.g., little grebe.
1.4Of short distance or duration: stay for a little while we climbed up a little way
More example sentences
  • Some important Taliban buildings are set a little distance away from the civilian population.
  • She was a little distance off, digging into her bag.
  • The polar continental is usually a dry air mass, having little distance to travel over the sea.
brief, short, short-lived;
fleeting, momentary, transitory, transient;
fast, quick, hasty, cursory
1.5Relatively unimportant; trivial (often used ironically): we have a little problem I can’t remember every little detail
More example sentences
  • But it will be nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the show without having to worry about every little detail.
  • It looked like a normal house, but there were just so many little incidental details.
  • Was it the big plot points that you wanted to reflect in your life or the mundane little details that you were going for?
minor, unimportant, insignificant, trivial, trifling, petty, paltry, inconsequential, nugatory
informal dinky, piddling

determiner& pronoun

1 (a little) A small amount of: [as determiner]: we got a little help from my sister [as pronoun]: you only see a little of what he can do
More example sentences
  • Sprinkle with a little of the leftover spring onions and serve immediately with extra cheese.
  • Most of the stuff out there just doesn't pack the same punch that the old tunes do and we want to bring back a little of the old touch.
  • Tourists and locals alike last night flocked to the pub to see if they could capture a little of the magic.
some, a small amount of, a bit of, a touch of, a soupçon of, a dash of, a taste of, a spot of;
a shade of, a suggestion of, a trace of, a hint of, a suspicion of;
a dribble of, a splash of, a pinch of, a sprinkling of, a speck of
informal a smidgen of, a tad of
1.1 [pronoun] A short time or distance: after a little, the rain stopped
a short time, a little while, a bit, an interval, a short period;
a minute, a moment, a second, an instant
informal a sec, a mo, a jiffy
2Used to emphasize how small an amount is: [as determiner]: I have little doubt of their identity there was very little time to be lost [as pronoun]: he ate and drank very little the ruble is worth so little these days
More example sentences
  • However, the use of a variety of instruments does little to emphasize the indivisibility of rights.
  • There is little doubt that these cases in particular have led to the numerous threats to her life.
  • But he had little doubt about that side of the midfielder's game when he signed him in the summer.
hardly any, not much, slight, scant, limited, restricted, modest, little or/to no, minimal, negligible

adverb (less /les/, least /lēst/)

1 (a little) To a small extent: he reminded me a little of my parents I was always a little afraid of her
More example sentences
  • One Moroccan girl said that she was a little afraid, since the murderer was a Moroccan.
  • I must admit, I was still a little afraid of this world that was still new and foreign to me.
  • I am a little afraid to ask what it is, but I do know I will not be eating much of this.
slightly, faintly, remotely, vaguely;
somewhat, a little bit, to some degree
2(Used for emphasis) only to a small extent; not much or often: he was little known in this country he had slept little these past weeks
More example sentences
  • Whatever happened in the past, the biblical message is little known in those lands today.
  • You need to get into the habit of drinking water little and often - before, during and after training.
  • Here, too, he enjoyed little financial success but the publication went on to greater things.
2.1Hardly or not at all: little did he know what wheels he was putting into motion
More example sentences
  • Yet this role is little noticed in the US and often incomprehensible to America's allies.
  • Oh wait that's little different to being ruled by a mobster, and brutally murdered and repressed.
  • They pointed out how little human nature has changed over the last thousand years.
hardly, barely, scarcely, not much, not at all, slightly, only slightly
rarely, seldom, infrequently, hardly, hardly ever, scarcely, scarcely ever, not much



in little

archaic On a small scale; in miniature.
Example sentences
  • Her latest book is a nice example in little of her larger approach to writing.

little by little

By degrees; gradually: little by little the money dried up
More example sentences
  • Her face went slowly blank, little by little, and gradually her grip on his wrist lessened.
  • Let her go to school and be with her at the beginning and then gradually fade away little by little.
  • After that, I began to notice, little by little, this marvelous and mystical place where I have lived for years.
gradually, slowly, by degrees, by stages, step by step, bit by bit, progressively;
subtly, imperceptibly

little or nothing

Hardly anything.
Example sentences
  • Given that such treatment is typical, one can hardly blame players for saying little or nothing.
  • The majority of organisms on Earth learn little or nothing during their individual lifetimes.
  • For 25 minutes we were treated to a close, tight encounter with little or nothing to choose between the sides.

make little of

Treat as unimportant: they made little of their royal connection
More example sentences
  • At the present, the U.S. government, while clinging to a sizeable hoard buried in Fort Knox, seeks to disparage it and make little of it as an unimportant metal.
  • In the process of accomplishing economic development, we have been ignoring safety and making little of human lives on the grounds of saving money.
  • I'd be mad to make little of a turnout of 10,000 people out of a population of 30,000.

no little

Considerable: a factor of no little importance
More example sentences
  • And what we lose is of no little importance to our students and to feminism.
  • It is of obvious importance and of no little difficulty.
  • With deft strokes (and no little humour), she switches characters with alacrity.

not a little

A great deal (of); much: not a little consternation was caused
More example sentences
  • Once you rent a site you have to adapt it to suit the kind of drama you're shooting and that involves a great deal of work and not a little cost.
  • It will take a great deal of effort, and not a little imagination, to sustain the peace process and make it yield positive results until a durable reconciliation is reached.
  • Put the bag somewhere safe, warn people away and call the authorities who will deal with the incident with little fuss and not a little gratitude.
6.1Very: it was not a little puzzling
More example sentences
  • For a week prior to Easter Sunday, Seville's famed Semana Santa processions trail evocatively, and sometimes not a little eerily, through the streets.
  • I'm puzzled, a bit worried, and not a little peeved that this should be the case.
  • Still he was smiling, if not a little painfully now.

quite a little

A fairly large amount of: some spoke quite a little English
More example sentences
  • But there is too little here that is fresh and quite a little that sounds fanatical.
  • The evidence is that there was quite a little diplomacy, aimed at coalition-forming for the largest purposes, throughout Asia at that time.
  • P.S. I've done quite a little Christmas baking over the past few days and am hoping to do a post about them early next week.
7.1A considerable: it turned out to be quite a little bonanza
More example sentences
  • With deepest apologies, I think I will be taking quite a little while with updates at times, but then again, I might be able to pick up the pace (just for you guys).
  • I haven't seen him this good in quite a little while.
  • I have come to the conclusion that it is quite a little gem.



Pronunciation: /ˈlidlnəs/
Example sentences
  • And when humanitarians allow themselves to be used, he feels, the whole sorry business of humanitarian intervention - already morally unsatisfying in its littleness and lateness - becomes more degenerate still.
  • It is that sense of littleness that astrology configures so successfully, just as Delphi with its enigmas configures obscurity, of things in the future, in the past and indeed the present.
  • Yes, their littleness, the little publicity that they receive, are a kind of defiance to the epoch in which all that counts is measured in big figures.


Old English lȳtel, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch luttel, German dialect lützel.

  • Like small, this is recorded from the earliest times. The proverb a little learning is a dangerous thing quotes a line from Alexander Pope's Essay on Man (1711); nowadays people often substitute ‘knowledge’ for ‘learning’.

Words that rhyme with little

acquittal, belittle, brittle, committal, embrittle, it'll, kittle, remittal, skittle, spittle, tittle, victual, whittle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: lit·tle

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