Definition of small in English:

small

Syllabification: small
Pronunciation: /smôl
 
/

adjective

  • 1Of a size that is less than normal or usual: the room was small and quiet the small hill that sheltered the house
    More example sentences
    • Its high performance in a small case size also means that the costs can be reduced by using fewer or smaller capacitors.
    • The precision of variance components is reduced when sample size is small.
    • Staff revealed that four ovens were situated on the ground floor, two electric and two gas, each the same size as a small car.
    Synonyms
    little, compact, bijou, tiny, miniature, mini; minute, microscopic, minuscule; toy, baby; poky, cramped, boxy
    informal teeny, teensy, itsy-bitsy, itty-bitty, pocket-sized, half-pint, little-bitty
    Scottish weeshort, little, petite, diminutive, elfin, tiny; puny, undersized, stunted, dwarfish, midget, pygmy, Lilliputian; Scottish wee
    informal teeny, pint-sized
    inadequate, meager, insufficient, ungenerous
    informal measly, stingy, mingy, pathetic
  • 1.1Not great in amount, number, strength, or power: a small amount of money
    More example sentences
    • Both areas were receiving small amounts of money over the years but little progress was being made.
    • Prior to the euro, some countries used notes for quite small amounts of money.
    • It is making me ridiculously happy, so it must have been worth the small amount of money I spent.
  • 1.2Not fully grown or developed; young: as a small boy, he spent his days either reading or watching TV
    More example sentences
    • As a small boy Johnnie grew up to know and love those lovely hills that surrounded his home in Castlerock.
    • Neither did they know of the sacrifices made by small boy, grown beyond his years, so that he could keep them all safe.
    • The gland is very small in babies and grows at the time of puberty in response to testosterone secreted by the testicles.
  • 1.3Used as the first letter of a word that has both a general and a specific use to show that in this case the general use is intended: I meant “catholic” with a small c
  • 1.4Insignificant; unimportant: these are small points
    More example sentences
    • The flowers seem small and insignificant during the day but at twilight they glow in the fading light and look beautiful.
    • He was small and insignificant but had a firearm trained on my navel.
    • The peaks of Glen Shiel loomed over and made me feel deliciously small and insignificant.
    Synonyms
  • 1.5(Of a voice) lacking strength and confidence: “I’m scared,” she said in a small voice
    More example sentences
    • It is at this point, though, that a small voice breaks in to ask, cui bono?
    • She came back towards us and asked in a small voice if she could have our autographs.
    • Rosie was speaking in a small voice, turning back to the floor as they made their way out the school building.
  • 1.6 [attributive] Little; hardly any: the captain had been paying small attention
  • 1.7 [attributive] (Of a business or its owner) operating on a modest scale: a small farmer
    More example sentences
    • The study showed that small business owners and managers felt they came up with seven good ideas a month.
    • It is appealing for other small business owners to pay for booklets for their local school.
    • He said the experience gave him a new appreciation for small business owners.
    Synonyms
    small-scale, modest, unpretentious, humble
  • 1.8 archaic Low or inferior in rank or position; socially undistinguished: at dinner, some of the smaller neighbors were invited

noun

(smalls) British informal Back to top  
  • Small items of clothing, especially underwear.
    More example sentences
    • Do we know if secreted about his smalls he has a pair of boxer shorts in either the ancient or red tartan of his venerable clanspersons?
    • Most retail philistines won't quite see what all the fuss is about; smalls are smalls, they murmur, no matter where they are sold.
    • If I could now ask you to drop your trousers and smalls…

adverb

Back to top  
  • 1Into small pieces: the okra cut up small
  • 1.1In a small size: you shouldn’t write so small
    More example sentences
    • It started out small and kept on expanding until it became one of the largest universities in the region.
    • The US may grumble that Europe talks big and acts small, but that is pretty much what Washington wants.

Phrases

feel (or look) small

Feel (or look) contemptibly weak or insignificant.
More example sentences
  • Are there some people or situations that make you feel small or weak when you encounter them?
  • Freshmen stood timidly together in circles, looking small and insignificant.
  • He looked small and weak underneath the pale blue lab coat.
Synonyms
foolish, stupid, insignificant, unimportant; embarrassed, humiliated, uncomfortable, mortified, ashamed; crushed

it's a small world

Used to express surprise at meeting an acquaintance or discovering a personal connection in a distant place or an unexpected context.
More example sentences
  • Meeting you set me to thinking what a small world it was which was topped off by discovering that Rodney's girlfriend's mum walks her dog in the same place that I do, and I know her, and her three legged beastie!
  • Her last address is in… well, what a small world, Salisbury, Massachusetts.
  • ‘Really,’ he said, ‘I'm from Glendale, Arizona--what a small world.’

no small ——

A good deal of ——: a matter of no small consequence
More example sentences
  • T.S. Eliot went to no small pains to energetically denounce the ‘epidemic’ that was ‘Bergsonism.’
  • Even minor things can bungle hard work, and English materials in international events are no small problems.
  • They are building homes again as you read this, and in no small numbers either.

the small of the back

The part of a person’s back where the spine curves in at the level of the waist.
More example sentences
  • The needle is passed into the space between two of the spinal bones in the small of the back (lumbar vertebrae).
  • When this occurs, it usually occurs on the anterior or posterior thigh or the small of the back.
  • If the chair back stops at the level of the small of the back, or anywhere below the shoulder blades, it is best given a curve.

small potatoes

informal Something insignificant or unimportant: her business was small potatoes
More example sentences
  • In a year when our public school board was usurped by a provincial appointee and the prospect of a 40-cent TTC fare hike was raised, these achievements may seem like small potatoes.
  • It's also small potatoes when compared to the estimated $464 million Ottawa spent on drug enforcement between 1999-2000.
  • I realize that this is small potatoes in the grand scheme of government encroachments into private enterprise, but it is a no-brainer for someone who even leans libertarian.

small wonder

Not very surprising: it’s small wonder that her emotions had seesawed

Derivatives

smallish

adjective
More example sentences
  • This resilient family set about having the house rebuilt, a smallish house as this was the time of building restrictions.
  • They also offered bribes to analysts for two smallish brokerage firms in return for favourable investment reports.
  • We wash using the old-fashioned way - a smallish tub full of water, a ladle, a loofah, soap and shampoo.

smallness

noun
More example sentences
  • In the attempt to find something flattering to say about her, the press widely remarked upon the smallness and delicacy of her feet and the beauty of her footwear.
  • And given the Earth's relative smallness on the galactic line, chances are it won't be hitting us.
  • This portional smallness is ingrained in Japan where, traditionally, food portion size is diminished and the aesthetic expanded.

Origin

Old English smæl, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch smal and German schmal.

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Pronunciation: skəʊʃ
noun
a small amount; a little