There are 2 main definitions of long in English:

Share this entry

long 1

Pronunciation: /lɒŋ/

adjective (longer /ˈlɒŋɡə/, longest /ˈlɒŋɡɪst/)

1Measuring a great distance from end to end: a long corridor long black hair the queue for tickets was long
More example sentences
  • She is described as white, about 25, of medium build, with long straight brown hair.
  • After a couple of lefts and a right she found herself in a long, straight corridor.
  • She has long straight blonde hair, which she usually wears in a ponytail.
lengthy, of considerable length, extended, prolonged, extensive, stretched out, spread out;
long-lasting, lasting
1.1(After a measurement and in questions) measuring a specified distance from end to end: a boat 150 feet long
More example sentences
  • How long is your garden?
  • It came in a box about three feet long and two feet wide.
  • The structure, constructed entirely of reinforced concrete, is 200 metres long.
1.2(Of a journey) covering a great distance: I went for a long walk
More example sentences
  • Anyone who misses the bus for the return journey must make the long walk home.
  • Often his journeys involve long treks through remote regions, giving him time to look and think.
  • The pilgrims had an extra long journey due to the extra security at the Airport.
1.3(Of a ball in sport) travelling a great distance, or further than expected or intended: he tried to head a long ball back to the keeper
More example sentences
  • One long Aberdeen ball upfield 30 seconds later and Riordan was to be harshly punished.
  • Henry is at his best when receiving long breakaway ball which allows him to run at defenders.
  • The hilly golf terrain favored his long ball.
1.4(Of a garment or sleeves on a garment) covering the whole of a person’s legs or arms: a sweater with long sleeves he’s scarcely old enough to be in long trousers
More example sentences
  • In Kenya, for instance, native women prefer to see female tourists in long skirts and sleeves.
  • Her scathing glance slid over me, taking in the baggy shirt and long skirt.
  • Though it was a good 75 degrees out he was wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt.
1.5Of elongated shape: shaped like a torpedo, long and thin
More example sentences
  • Then they transfer the dye colours to it and roll out the substance into a long and thin shape.
  • It was a room of narrow but long shape, with two glassless windows with wooden shutters.
  • The walls were covered in sponges and a few anemones but the beauty of the cave lay in its long, narrow shape.
2Lasting or taking a great amount of time: a long and distinguished career she took a long time to dress
More example sentences
  • Colleagues today paid tribute to their engine driver, who had made many friends during his long career.
  • The author had a long career in journalism and his final post was that of executive editor of the European.
  • Health problems need to be attended to and resolved or they can linger for a long time.
prolonged, protracted, lengthy, overlong, extended, long-drawn-out, drawn-out, spun-out, dragged-out, seemingly endless, lingering, interminable;
tedious, boring, wearisome
2.1(After a noun of duration and in questions) lasting or taking a specified amount of time: a week-long course the debates will be 90 minutes long
More example sentences
  • The question was asked how long would it take to recoup the cost of parking meters when few people were using some of the places.
  • My only question now is how long will I have to wait before house prices return to sensible levels again?
  • The only question in her mind, was how long would it take for everything to work out?
2.2 [attributive] Seeming to last more time than is the case; lengthy: serving long hours on the committee
More example sentences
  • He candidly admits in the book he spent months on the couch and long hours with a marriage counsellor.
  • Trapped in the house together during the long curfew hours, Marie spent her days making marmalade.
  • She doesn't have a job and isn't allowed to go out, so she fills the long hours every day by teaching her kids how to swear.
2.3(Of a person’s memory) retaining things for a great amount of time.
Example sentences
  • I'm a historian with a long memory and a sentimental attachment to my past.
  • Although he affects a gentle demeanour, O'Leary has a long memory and his opinions can be acidic.
  • The Parisian spectators have long memories and they do not like a bad loser.
3Relatively great in extent: write a long report a long list of candidates
More example sentences
  • Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients: it is really easy to make.
  • Despite a long list of honorary titles she has remained far from grand.
  • I made a long list of promises to God of how good I'd be in future if only we could get this sorted out.
3.1(After a noun of extent and in questions) having a specified extent: the statement was three pages long
More example sentences
  • How long is the book?
  • The script, he says, is approximately 800-1000 pages long, the equivalent to eight to ten hours of dialogue.
  • I've got a list of things about five sheets long to work on.
4 Phonetics (Of a vowel) categorized as long with regard to quality and length (e.g. in standard British English the vowel uː in food is long as distinct from the short vowel ʊ in good).
Example sentences
  • The big problem with long vowels is that there is more than one way to spell the same sound.
  • French long vowels always occur on stressed syllables.
  • In French, Italian, and Scottish English long vowels occur in a narrow range of positions and in general do not affect meaning.
4.1 Prosody (Of a vowel or syllable) having the greater of the two recognized durations.
Example sentences
  • Vocal delivery feels like a poetry reading, spoken as much as sung, but with long drawn syllables.
  • A trochee is a metrical foot of two syllables, the first long and the second short.
  • Let's assume that long syllables take just twice as long to say as short ones.
5(Of odds or a chance) reflecting or representing a low level of probability: winning against long odds
More example sentences
  • Today is merely the start of a difficult but worthy process undertaken against long odds.
  • Despite the long odds, she's hoping someone in the unemployment lines will take up the challenge.
  • There was an element of ill luck, but every so often, as gamblers would tell us, long odds do come off.
6 Finance (Of shares, bonds, or other assets) bought in advance, with the expectation of a rise in price.
Example sentences
  • After all, back in the seventies, the long bond yield was up in the mid teens.
  • For this reason, their value is often calculated by making reference to the long bond yield.
  • Provided that restricted shares can be bought at a deep discount to market, it would make much sense for the group holding long shares to try and convert those shares into a far greater number of restricted shares.
6.1(Of a broker or their position in the market) buying or based on long stocks.
Example sentences
  • This is so because the central bank is on the long side of the bond market most of the time.
  • When markets turn vulnerable, the enterprising speculator may this time decide to reverse his long position and go short.
  • Traders are well advised to enter into a long position and place a protective stop below the latest low in the market.
6.2(Of a security) maturing at a distant date.
Example sentences
  • Long securities are such a good substitute for cash.
  • Issuers who are unwilling to pay the price to sell these long securities can instead sell shorter maturities.
7(Of a drink) large and refreshing, and in which alcohol, if present, is not concentrated.
Example sentences
  • Sip it, with ice and a dash of lemon, or make it into a refreshing long drink with sparkling water.
  • When I got home I poured myself a long lemonade.
  • He suggests serving them in long summer drinks and Martinis, or in chilled soup such as gazpacho
8 (long on) informal Well supplied with: an industry that’s long on ideas but short on cash
More example sentences
  • They are long on opinions, but short on evidence.
  • He is long on promises, but short on accomplishments.
  • Both movies are extremely long on mystery and innuendo.


1 [mass noun] A long period: see you before long it will not be for long
More example sentences
  • He insisted that he had problems adapting to society after spending so long behind bars.
  • A family business cannot survive for long without a family to run as well as own it.
  • Then discuss it, but not for long, because this is a technique actors use to delay standing up and doing it.
soon, shortly, presently, in the near future, in a short time, in a little while, in a minute, in a moment;
in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, in (less than) no time, in no time (at all), before you know it, any minute (now);
informal in a jiffy, in two shakes, in two shakes of a lamb's tail, before you can say Jack Robinson
archaic or informal anon
archaic ere long
2A long sound such as a long signal in Morse code or a long vowel or syllable: two longs and a short
More example sentences
  • He blew two longs, a short and a long on the steam whistle as the train inched toward its top speed of 20 miles an hour.
  • SOS is three longs, followed by three shorts, and another three longs.
3 (longs) Finance Long-dated securities, especially gilts.
Example sentences
  • If the dollar rises, gold will face pressure and may need to shake out more of the weaker longs before resuming its rise.
  • At this level we will accumulate dollar longs and warn buyers of gold stocks to watch out for a renewed decline if the dollar's seasonal pattern holds true.
  • In a weekly uptrend, continue adding to longs whenever the force index turns negative; continually add to shorts in downtrends whenever the force index turns positive.
3.1Assets held in a long position.
Example sentences
  • The risk of the longs is that the price will fall.
  • What this tells us is that the funds had begun to not only eliminate longs but were in the process of actually building a short position since the technical indicators had all flipped negative.
  • Looking at the pattern of returns emerging from the whole portfolio - mixing up longs and shorts and any currency overlays - does not give enough information.

adverb (longer /ˈlɒŋɡə/, longest /ˈlɒŋɡɪst/)

1For a long time: we hadn’t known them long an experience they will long remember his long-awaited Grand Prix debut
More example sentences
  • I will think long and hard before I give my number out again.
  • On Booker shortlists, the preponderance of some subjects over others has long been a source of comment.
  • They had long been sought by police in connection with a series of violent motorcycle thefts.
1.1In questions about a period of time: how long have you been working?
More example sentences
  • Questions ranged from how long the baby had been on mother's milk to how often the baby fell sick.
  • A key question is how long it will take for new policies to take effect.
  • How long he can remain on the fence is a question for an uncertain future.
1.2At a time distant from a specified event or time: the work was compiled long after his death
More example sentences
  • We lost faith in pensions long ago.
  • The men long ago stopped wearing tribal costumes.
  • It's a particularly unfashionable old hat that ought to have gone to the charity shop long ago.
1.3 [comparative, with negative] After an implied point of time: he couldn’t wait any longer
More example sentences
  • Her father was a very important man in the city and he could not stay any longer no matter what his daughter wished.
  • They will not keep you any longer than necessary.
  • We won't wait any longer for this country's children have health care and a quality education.
1.4(After a noun of duration) throughout a specified period: it rained all day long
More example sentences
  • It's had a great spirit all season long and everybody came through for everybody else.
  • The seniors told us, the new students, to do a lot of silly things all day long.
  • All night long the hockey pictures gaze down at you sleeping in your tracksuit.
2(With reference to the ball in sport) at, to, or over a great distance: the Cambridge side played the ball long
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately we fell into that trap and started just lumping the ball long which isn't our style.
  • Instead, he pulls ten men back and hoofs the ball long, to be chased or held up by a willing workhorse.
  • The front two had little support other than balls knocked long to alleviate the pressure.
2.1Beyond the point aimed at; too far: he threw the ball long
More example sentences
  • The Belgian then began to get flustered and started spraying the balls long and wide.
  • Too often Rio Ferdinand looked up and knocked it long because he didn't have an option.
  • You can hit the ball harder and take a longer swing while minimizing the risk of sending the ball long.



as (or so) long as

1During the whole time that: they have been there as long as anyone can remember
More example sentences
  • Ducks have been part of the village scene in Bledington for as long as anyone can remember.
  • He said it was a great day for the town and one he would remember as long as he lived.
  • I'm not sure when this one got started, but it has been going on as long as I can remember.
2Provided that: as long as you fed him, he would be cooperative
More example sentences
  • The government maintains that it does not matter who provides the services so long as they are publicly funded.
  • There are few moral limits imposed, so long as what happens is between consenting adults.
  • The advantage of the essay question is that you can play to your strengths - so long as what you write is relevant.

be long

Take a long time to happen or arrive: sit down, tea won’t be long
More example sentences
  • It will not be long before you can buy network television programming without ads for a monthly fee.
  • It may not be long before Americans see a new English hero.
  • He knew the twelve o'clock train would not be long.

in the long run

Over or after a long period of time; eventually: it saves money in the long run
More example sentences
  • The project will both use a renewable source of power as well as save the university money in the long run.
  • As well as improving performance, the new units would also save money in the long run.
  • Although bosses admit the changes will cause teething problems they say it will work well in the long run.

long ago

In the distant past: long ago an unmarried girl was considered her father’s property her son died long ago [as modifier]: time has marched on since my long-ago youth
More example sentences
  • Long ago when I was in high school, my baseball coach provided "oil of wintergreen" for our sore muscles.
  • It might have been part of a pirate or a viking ship long ago.
  • It's way too late but these children should have been adopted by capable parents long ago.

the long and the short of it

All that can or need be said: the long and short of it is, I must make something or be miserable
More example sentences
  • I'm just somebody serving food and that's the long and the short of it.
  • He's shell shocked, is the long and the short of it.
  • And then the long and the short of it was that we went back to where we stayed and there was no sign of her back there.

long in the tooth

Rather old.
Originally said of horses, from the receding of the gums with age
Example sentences
  • His gaggle of girlfriends all seem suspiciously long in the tooth to qualify as high-school students.
  • ‘I felt we were getting a bit long in the tooth,’ he said.
  • I'm only 29 so I hope that doesn't make me long in the tooth, I started driving a logging truck when I was 17.

long time no see

informal It’s a long time since we last met (used as a greeting).
In humorous imitation of broken English spoken by an American Indian
Example sentences
  • Mark, the instructor who I've mentioned before in a post said hi, and asked where I was… long time no see.
  • I never stopped to say hello, long time no see.
  • Sweetie, long time no see, where have you been hiding?

not long ago

Recently: not long ago he came across a rattlesnake outside his house
More example sentences
  • You may not be aware that her father died not long ago.
  • Not long ago such a demand would have seemed both radical and unfeasible.
  • Not long ago, bicycles were the main mode of transportation here.

so long

Pronunciation: /ˌsəʊ ˈlɒŋ/
see so.

take the long view

Think beyond the current situation.
Example sentences
  • He had held many of his views since early adulthood, and he took the long view.
  • Conservative strategists taking the long view must already be realizing the next election, generally expected just a few months from now, could turn out disastrously for the new party.
  • It would seem that in this one unique instance the government is taking the long view.


Old English lang, long (adjective), lange, longe (adverb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German lang.

  • The long referring to length and the long meaning ‘to desire’ are unrelated, though both have ancient Germanic roots. The phrase long in the tooth was first used to describe horses, and comes from the way you can estimate a horse's age by looking at its teeth: if the gums have receded and the teeth consequently look very long, you know the animal is rather old. See also gift. The background to long time no see, would nowadays probably be seen as politically incorrect. It was originally an American expression and arose in the early 20th century as a supposedly humorous imitation of the broken English spoken by a Native American. This dubious past is long forgotten and the phrase is now freely used on both sides of the Atlantic. See also arm

Words that rhyme with long

along, belong, bong, chaise longue, Geelong, gong, Guangdong, Haiphong, Heilong, Hong Kong, Jong, King Kong, mah-jong, Mao Zedong, Mekong, nong, pong, prolong, sarong, Shillong, song, souchong, strong, thong, throng, tong, Vietcong, wrong

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: long

Share this entry

There are 2 main definitions of long in English:

Share this entry

long 2

Pronunciation: /lɒŋ/


[no object]
Have a strong wish or desire: she longed for a little more excitement [with infinitive]: we are longing to see the new baby
More example sentences
  • He ached for her and longed to show her that he loved her and that he wouldn't leave her.
  • She laughs and says she has longed for the ring for a great time and wished to take it.
  • She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after.
yearn, pine, ache, wish, burn, hanker for/after, hunger, thirst, itch, pant, hope, be eager, be desperate, be consumed with desire, be unable to wait, would give one's eye teeth;
crave, need, lust after, dream of, set one's heart on, be bent on, eat one's heart out over, covet;
want, desire, set one's sights on
informal have a yen, be dying, yen


Old English langian 'grow long, prolong', also 'dwell in thought, yearn', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch langen 'present, offer' and German langen 'reach, extend'.

  • The long referring to length and the long meaning ‘to desire’ are unrelated, though both have ancient Germanic roots. The phrase long in the tooth was first used to describe horses, and comes from the way you can estimate a horse's age by looking at its teeth: if the gums have receded and the teeth consequently look very long, you know the animal is rather old. See also gift. The background to long time no see, would nowadays probably be seen as politically incorrect. It was originally an American expression and arose in the early 20th century as a supposedly humorous imitation of the broken English spoken by a Native American. This dubious past is long forgotten and the phrase is now freely used on both sides of the Atlantic. See also arm

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: long

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.