Definition of short in English:

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Pronunciation: /ʃɔːt/


1Measuring a small distance from end to end: short dark hair a short flight of steps the bed was too short for him
More example sentences
  • The offender is described as a white man, 5ft 10 in tall, with short dark hair and of medium build.
  • He had short dark hair, a small thin moustache and brown eyes.
  • The suspect is a white man, 6ft tall, with stubble, short dark hair, and crooked white teeth.
small, little, tiny, minuscule
informal teeny, teeny-weeny
low, squat, stubby, miniature, dwarf;
Scottish  wee
direct, straight
1.1(Of a journey) covering a small distance: the hotel is a short walk from the sea
More example sentences
  • This is not a problem on short journeys but on a long haul it can literally become a pain in the neck.
  • Now hardly anybody works on Saturday mornings and cars and buses are freely available to make the short journey to Ibrox or Parkhead.
  • I was put up at a villa that stood on stilts in the sea and which required a short journey by boat to reach from the main resort itself.
1.2(Of a garment or sleeves on a garment) only covering the top part of a person’s arms or legs: a short skirt
More example sentences
  • Wrapping her arms about her, Jenni cursed her choice of a skirt and short sleeves.
  • Only now they were incongruously dressed in sheepskin jackets and short skirts.
  • She was never associated with skimpy bathing suits, low cut gowns and short dresses.
1.3(Of a person) small in height: he is short and tubby
More example sentences
  • You have to imagine a tiny, thin, short fellow with a white beard and bald head.
  • She's short and petite, with dimples in her smile and her hair in small little buns.
  • She is short and petite in frame - a trait she inherited from her Japanese mother.
small, little, petite, tiny, squat, stocky, dumpy, stubby, elfin, dwarfish, diminutive, Lilliputian;
Scottish  wee
informal pint-sized, teeny, teeny-weeny, pocket-sized, knee-high to a grasshopper
British informal fubsy
1.4(Of a ball in cricket, a shot in tennis, etc.) travelling only a small distance before bouncing: he uses his opportunities to attack every short ball
More example sentences
  • Bevan was said to have a weakness against the short ball and was restricted to playing limited overs cricket.
  • I was putting away the short ball, hitting the forehands well and not missing anything on the backhand.
  • Two of them came in Kirby's first over and both were dispatched to the boundary, along with a short ball which was pulled to the fence.
1.5 Cricket Denoting fielding positions relatively close to the batsman: short midwicket
More example sentences
  • However, McIntyre quickly took revenge to have the batsman caught at short mid-wicket by Love.
  • The big-hitting Justin Kemp ran himself out on 18 as Boje did some fine fielding from short cover.
  • I was fielding at short leg and had the best seat in the house.
2Lasting or taking a small amount of time: visiting London for a short break a short conversation
More example sentences
  • We'll continue our conversation with both of these senators after a short break.
  • After a short conversation he left but the residents believe someone tampered with a back window while he was there.
  • She was suspicious and, after a short conversation, told the man to leave.
brief, momentary, temporary, short-lived, impermanent, short-term, cursory, fleeting, passing, fugitive, flying, lightning, transitory, transient, ephemeral, evanescent, fading, quick, meteoric
rare fugacious
2.1 [attributive] Seeming to last less time than is the case; passing quickly: in 10 short years all this changed
More example sentences
  • I have seen far too many people give up too quickly on their programs after a few short weeks.
  • The cake was a replica of the old school where Catherine taught for all those years and which closed only a few short months ago.
  • I noticed how much has changed over these 10 short years, cinema prices, for instance.
2.2(Of a person’s memory) retaining things for only a small amount of time: he has a short memory for past misdeeds
More example sentences
  • Yet those who might write off the Commonwealth and European medallist have short memories.
  • Investors, institutional and retail, have famously short memories.
  • Only those who are blessed with short memories can believe that the history of ideas is a tale of progress.
2.3 Stock Market (Of stocks or other securities or commodities) sold in advance of being acquired, with reliance on the price falling so that a profit can be made.
Example sentences
  • The effect was to throw prices and expectations into chaos when stocks were short.
  • Speculators have no firm commitment to the long or the short side of the market.
2.4 Stock Market (Of a broker, position in the market, etc.) buying or based on short stocks or other securities or commodities.
Example sentences
  • Take short positions with caution until the market reverts back to bull confirmed.
  • Unlike other investors, he can establish either long or short positions in securities.
  • Shorters or short sellers are traders who sell shares that they don't already own.
2.5Denoting or having a relatively early date for the maturing of a bill of exchange.
Example sentences
  • It is unusual because of the falling interest rate environment during most of the period, at least for short bonds, followed by a leveling off and slight rise in the last few months.
3Relatively small in extent: a short speech he wrote a short book
More example sentences
  • Plan to write a relatively short novel; you are producing one book, not a library.
  • One of the key issues to be considered in this short introduction is the extent to which this is true.
  • The third book is longer than the first two, but is relatively short.
concise, brief, succinct, to the point, compact, terse, curt, summary, economical, crisp, short and sweet, pithy, epigrammatic, laconic, pointed, thumbnail, abridged, abbreviated, condensed, synoptic, compendious, summarized, contracted, curtailed, truncated
3.1 (short of/on) Not having enough of (something); lacking or deficient in: they were very short of provisions I know you’re short on cash
More example sentences
  • We have not gotten off that, which is why we're short on equipment and personnel and training.
  • They were short on information, but all said Deane had resigned from the OPP.
  • If you're short on time and desperately in need of a one-stop option for all of your green needs, you're in luck.
deficient in, lacking (in), wanting (in), in need of, low on, short on, missing, with an insufficiency of, with too few/little …
informal strapped for, pushed for, minus
3.2 [predicative] In insufficient supply: food is short
More example sentences
  • Six days after Tropical Storm Jeanne hit the island, water and food supplies are short.
  • The co-operative's arable manager, Phil Rees, warned that supplies could be very short next spring.
  • He added that there is a short supply of trained diabeticians.
scarce, in short supply, scant, scanty, meagre, sparse, hard to find, hard to come by, not enough, too little, insufficient, deficient, inadequate, lacking, wanting;
at a premium, like gold dust, not to be had, scarcer than hen's teeth;
paltry, negligible, thin
informal not to be had for love nor money
rare exiguous
4 Phonetics (Of a vowel) categorized as short with regard to quality and length (e.g. in standard British English the vowel ʊ in good is short as distinct from the long vowel uː in food).
Example sentences
  • Maybe it's all part of a plan to nullify the threat from the land of the short sharp vowel.
  • There are other vowel sounds in our language besides the short and long vowels.
4.1 Prosody (Of a vowel or syllable) having the lesser of the two recognized durations.
Example sentences
  • Many local accents are marked by a rhythm that tends to lengthen stressed vowels and to reduce or eliminate unstressed short vowels.
  • It can occur in syllable coda position, but only after a short vowel.
  • A trochee is a metrical foot of two syllables, the first long and the second short.
5 [predicative] (Of a person) terse; uncivil: he was often sharp and rather short with her
More example sentences
  • He was short with the press, which did not endear him when it came to the races with Coe.
  • British Transport Police are being very short with their version of events.
  • I don't know what I have done to upset him but I must have done something as Gareth has been very short with me of late.
curt, sharp, abrupt, blunt, brusque, terse, offhand, gruff, ungracious, graceless, surly, snappy, testy, tart, rude, discourteous, uncivil, impolite, ill-mannered, bad-mannered
6(Of odds or a chance) reflecting or representing a high level of probability: they have been backed at short odds to win thousands of pounds
More example sentences
  • Otherwise Mark Read will be offering very short odds indeed on NT Labor being a one term government.
  • George has very short odds to be evicted from Celebrity Big Brother, but he's providing us with too much fun for him to go just yet.
  • Scotland's top trainer over the jumps is short odds to achieve his aim despite the attentions of the handicapper.
7(Of pastry) containing a high proportion of fat to flour and therefore crumbly.
Example sentences
  • The easiest way to do this with very short pastry is wrap it lightly around the rolling pin, lift the pastry up on the rolling pin, and lay it on top of the fruit.
  • The short pastry is good and the sauce emulsified, but filling is bland invalid food and the ham is elusive.
  • This had thin, short pastry nicely dusted with icing sugar and was delicious.
crumbly, crispy, crisp, brittle, friable;
7.1(Of clay) having poor plasticity.
Example sentences
  • A short clay will not bend well and tends to break instead of forming when bent.


1(Chiefly in sport) at, to, or over a relatively small distance: you go deep and you go short
More example sentences
  • This allows a wider variety of attacking options, with an aerial or passing game, long or short all possible.
  • He has to mix playing the ball long and short, and is playing it long too often.
  • Flintoff spotted Ganguly charging down the pitch and dropped it short only for the batsman to carve the ball deep into the crowd.
1.1Not as far as the point aimed at; not far enough: all too often you pitch the ball short
More example sentences
  • He does tend to hit a lot of balls short, which allowed me to move up in the court and attack.
  • Instead, we end up making an ugly pass at the ball and almost always leave it two or three feet short.
  • Today, they are playing away from the body when the ball is pitched short.


1British A drink of spirits served in a small measure.
Example sentences
  • Nicholas said he had drunk about six shorts and other alcohol and had taken heroin in the hours leading up to the encounter.
  • She had drunk a litre of cider and three shorts of vodka and had taken too high a dose of her prescribed medicine.
  • There is a fan nearby which fills one ear with white noise and makes me slightly giddy as if I had drunk a short.
2A short film as opposed to a feature film.
Example sentences
  • Arteta made several well-received shorts and the feature film Star Maps, about a would-be movie star who makes a living selling Hollywood maps - and sex.
  • It means feature films, not shorts; fiction not documentary.
  • The Raindance festival commences on October 23 and will include 70 feature films and 200 shorts from 22 countries.
3A short sound such as a short signal in Morse code or a short vowel or syllable: her call was two longs and a short
More example sentences
  • To reach Phillip W Steele's grandparents on Gilliland farm, the caller would have to ring two longs and a short on a wooden box on the wall.
4A short circuit.
Example sentences
  • The transformer laminations or coating of shellac, enamel or varnish is to insulate adjacent turns from shorts between winding.
  • An internal short can cause the battery cells to overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.
5 Stock Market A person who sells short.
Example sentences
  • During a downtrend, shorts are selling aggressively while the only participants that are buying are bottom pickers.
  • The shorts are also alarmed by corporate insider selling at Stericycle.
  • If you conclude the shorts have a good case, sell or lighten up.
5.1 (shorts) Stock Market Short-dated stocks.
Example sentences
  • He's right too about the Commercials putting out more shorts on a price rise.
  • A bullish divergence issues a signal to cover your shorts and prepare to enter into a long position.
6 (shorts) A mixture of bran and coarse flour.
Example sentences
  • The diets contained shorts, bran, or flour alone or in combination.


1Short-circuit or cause to short-circuit: [no object]: the electrical circuit had shorted out [with object]: if the contact terminals are shorted, the battery quickly overheats
More example sentences
  • If you did not do anything with the flyback, gradually the internal capacitance will become shorted and you will need to refurbish the flyback.
  • Only by using a ringer test you will know if it shorted or not.
  • It sort of reminded me of when you see powerlines shorting out, or see a lot of sort of slow sparks leaping out from this central point.
2 [with object] Stock Market Sell (stocks or other securities or commodities) in advance of acquiring them, with the aim of making a profit when the price falls: the rule prevents sellers from shorting a stock unless the last trade resulted in a price increase
More example sentences
  • Take our investors, for example, who made money shorting financials over the last year.
  • Some 1.6 million shares, 10 % of shares outstanding, have been shorted.
  • Almost time to short the faster-moving currencies, I think.



be caught (or British taken) short

Be put at a disadvantage: he encouraged young people to build up a range of skills so they are not caught short when employment ends suddenly
More example sentences
  • The council is still caught short with its plans to build public toilets in the centre of the CBD.
  • After 68 minutes, Town were caught short at the back and Kasowali was allowed to run through and crack a firm shot from 30 metres that gave Ward no chance.
  • Given Yeltsin's snap Hogmanay decision to quit it perhaps isn't surprising that Aron's weighty bio was caught short when it came out in hardback earlier this year.
British informal1.1 Urgently need to urinate or defecate: those caught short in the store will have to pay £1 to use the toilets
More example sentences
  • On one occasion, after being caught short during a particularly exciting match, he merrily urinated over the heads of the fans sitting below.
  • It's actually a two-seater earth toilet called a midden that was built about 200 years ago during the time of the hall's foremost owner, John Spencer, for when residents were caught short in the park.
  • Shoppers were caught short as facilities remained locked when cleaners went on strike.

a brick short of a load (or two sandwiches short of a picnic, etc.)

informal (Of a person) stupid or slightly mad: she’s two bricks short of a load
More example sentences
  • People must think I am two sandwiches short of a picnic.
  • In short, because I've retired, I'm now being treated as if I'm two sandwiches short of a picnic.
  • No surprise, really - Harry has been a failure all his life, not to mention two sandwiches short of a picnic.

bring (or pull) someone up short

Make someone check or pause abruptly: he was entering the office when he was brought up short by the sight of John
More example sentences
  • As I walked out to the car this morning there was something about the sunshine that brought me up short, made me check the sky for rain clouds, the tyres for pressure and my ankles for matching socks.
  • The power of the word froze Cordelia, while Joyce was brought up short by confusion.
  • Yet suddenly we are brought up short by an act of heroism so obvious and yet so unexpected that one can't help feeling somewhat ashamed of one's voyeurism.

come short

Fail to reach a goal or standard: we’re so close to getting the job done, but we keep coming up short
More example sentences
  • Sin is falling short of the standard set by God: ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God’.
  • Failing to do so, a church ‘will both fail to develop its people and come short of a world opportunity.’
  • The US business is still poor and is likely to have come short of the targets but they've continued to win new customers in the UK and have two new power plants on stream.
South African 4.1 Get into trouble: if you try to trick him you’ll come short
More example sentences
  • You work your own hours and have lots of time to practice ice-hockey but you have to be very disciplined or you'll come short.

for short

As an abbreviation or nickname: the File Transfer Protocol, or FTP for short
More example sentences
  • Our best idea yet, is to call it Tropical Intelligence Team, or T.I.T. for short.
  • The recommended way of doing this in general is with Cascading Style Sheets - css for short.
  • We could call the journey the Yorkston Acoustic Movement or YAM for short.

get (or have) someone by the short and curlies (or short hairs)

informal Have complete control of a person: they had you by your short and curlies the minute they got you into that uniform
From military slang, referring to pubic hair
More example sentences
  • I tell you this… the only time we matter to those scum is when we have them by the short hairs.
  • . He has you by the short hairs, especially if he sells food and you are hungry.
  • We should know if the US has us by the short and curlies.

go short

Not have enough of something, especially food: you won’t go short when I die
More example sentences
  • Their report - Going Hungry, carried out by the Food Commission - found that 46% of parents on low household incomes had gone short of food in the last year to feed someone else in their family.
  • For a hard pressed working class couple it could mean an unpaid gas bill or going short of food.
  • It wasn't too long before they started up again, with a different kind of balance (and everyone went short on everything).

in short

To sum up; briefly: we hope, in short, to bring theory and practice together in each session
More example sentences
  • It has, in short, become impossible to ignore the fact that obesity is a class issue.
  • In short, this bill allows the Attorney-General to appoint an almost infinite number of judges.
  • In short, those twin categories must be thought of as indicative, and not absolute, for analytical purposes.
briefly, to put it briefly/succinctly/concisely, in a word, in a nutshell, in a few words, in precis, in essence, to cut a long story short, to come to the point;
in conclusion, summarizing, in summary, to sum up, in sum

in short order

chiefly North American Immediately; rapidly: after the killing the camp had been shut down in short order
More example sentences
  • The choice helps explain why California drained its once plentiful reserves in short order.
  • Of course there are some, very few, that step over the line and they are usually slapped down in short order by the other posters.
  • Articulate, meticulous, and a very quick study, he makes himself indispensable in short order.

in the short run (or term)

In the near future: they will increase output in the short run in the short term some sacrifices may be made
More example sentences
  • You will find that it is possible to reach large numbers of the poor with these measures in the short run, even as you plan for the longer term.
  • The solutions may cost money in the short run but will save it in the long term.
  • Are they going to be able to resist the temptation of low prices in the short run in exchange for less innovation in the future?

little (or nothing) short of

Almost (or equal to); little (or nothing) less than: he regarded the cost of living as little short of scandalous
More example sentences
  • This was served with a creamy garlic purée, which was nothing short of sinfully good.
  • Mental, crushing, and amazing all in equal doses, the mix is nothing short of perfect.
  • These figures are nothing short of staggering and should serve as a wake-up call.

make short work of

Accomplish, consume, or destroy quickly: we made short work of our huge portions
More example sentences
  • The task was accomplished though, and U.S. forces made short work of what was until then the world's 5th largest army.
  • Sparrows, finches and other hard-billed birds will make short work of all the left-over seeds, so they won't be wasted; and Mr Aconley will doubtless be treated to even more conversations and songs!
  • The huge and powerful Hilti drill is a little bit too heavy for bolt climbing but it made short work of the age-old limestone.

sell short

Stock Market Sell stock or other securities or commodities which one does not own at the time, in the hope of buying at a lower price before the delivery time.
Example sentences
  • The stock began the year with 50 million shares sold short.
  • One million shares in company A have been sold short.
  • Short interest is simply the total number of shares of a company that have been sold short.

sell someone/thing short

Fail to recognize or state the true value of: don’t sell yourself short—you’ve got what it takes
More example sentences
  • To say Christopher is a well-connected British gent is to sell him short.
  • In the same instance you shouldn't sell yourself short.
  • Neither does he sell himself short on the talent front.
undervalue, underrate, underestimate, disparage, deprecate, belittle
rare derogate

short and sweet

Brief but pleasant or relevant: his comments were short and sweet
More example sentences
  • ‘Well that was short and sweet,’ Deed commented on Merkaydi's answer.
  • Martin Scorsese is a true film buff and knows to keep his comments short and sweet when dealing with The Golden Coach.
  • ‘No point in boring the crowd, keep it short and sweet,’ says Tim.

the short end of the stick

North American An outcome in which one has less advantage than others.
Example sentences
  • Some Americans find themselves on the short end of the stick, ‘limited by failing schools, hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth.’
  • But at least the hope was that that 2% would ease things a bit for those who got the short end of the stick.
  • We were and are facing a new definition of class - the Digital Divide - and guess who's on the short end of the stick?

short for

An abbreviation or nickname for: I’m Robbie—short for Roberta
More example sentences
  • The Queen's first family nickname was Lilibet, short for Elizabeth.
  • Sam, in fact, was short for Sambo, a nickname he accepted with the grace and good humour that characterised the man.
  • They also didn't want it to have a shorter nickname like Jenny, short for Jennifer.

short of

Less than: he died at sixty-one, four years short of his pensionable age
More example sentences
  • Alan Knott remembers it with some bitterness as he was stranded on 96 not out, four runs short of a maiden test century.
  • They were four players short of the team that had won the Munster crown but the replacements were also top class.
  • He was out caught to a fine catch by Hayward at mid-off just four short of his best of 73 not out.
18.1Not reaching as far as: a rocket failure left a satellite tumbling in an orbit far short of its proper position
More example sentences
  • She had to abandon her singles effort when she fell short of the main draw.
  • We had reached the village of Brecy by nightfall, some way short of our objective.
  • She backed up and sped down the driveway and stopped just inches short of the closed gate.
18.2Without going so far as (some extreme action): short of putting out an all-persons alert, there’s little else we can do
More example sentences
  • Accept that there will be no solution to Muslim extremism short of a settlement for Palestine.
  • If you're good friends with people throwing the kegger, you have no excuse not to go short of a wedding or funeral.
  • I don't know if Arthur Lee is in the house, but short of that, can you be the one to help our friend?
apart from, other than, in any other way than, aside from, besides, except (for), excepting, without, without going so far as, excluding, leaving out, not counting, disregarding, save (for)

short of breath

Panting; short-winded: they become short of breath on very slight exertion
More example sentences
  • Laughing until she's short of breath, her panting pleas for release are finally granted.
  • After five heart attacks and a stroke, Charles Neal's heart was so worn out that he could not walk across a room without feeling exhausted and short of breath.
  • If you have asthma, and you inhale the airborne pollen, you may start coughing, wheezing, and be short of breath.

short, sharp shock

Pronunciation: /ˌʃɔːt ˌʃɑːp ˈʃɒk/
see shock1.

stop short

(or stop someone short)
Stop (or cause to stop) suddenly or abruptly: she began to speak, but stopped short at the look on the other woman’s face I was about to reply with a sarcastic remark when a thought stopped me short
More example sentences
  • She stopped short at the sight of Tyler and a smile spread across her lips.
  • She looked like she might have a hangover, but she stopped short at the sight of Faith.
  • Casey stopped short at the sight of the other five training agents, staring at her with questions.

stop short of

Not go as far as (some extreme action): the measures stopped short of establishing direct trade links
More example sentences
  • Were you surprised at the charges that the attorney general leveled against him - stopping short of treason, stopping short of something that could have justified the death penalty?
  • But the Christie measures stop short of clamping cars whose drivers exceed parking time they have paid for, or who fail to pay.
  • He stopped short of actually defending high fuel taxes on environmental grounds, but the link has been made.



Pronunciation: /ˈʃɔːtɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • I think she would look amazing in a white leather shortish dress with beading.
  • You're getting close to a good mix of two broad streams: shortish, formless, off-the-cuff opinion pieces; and formal, well-argued pieces, both long and short.
  • Playing With Time is tremendous fun: a collection of shortish Quicktime movies of time-lapse and high-speed photography.


Old English sceort, of Germanic origin; related to shirt and skirt.

  • shirt from Old English:

    The garments shirt and skirt (Middle English) share an ancient root, which is also that of short, the basic sense probably being ‘short garment’. The idea behind shirty (mid 19th century), ‘bad-tempered or annoyed’, is the same as that behind keep your shirt on, ‘don't lose your temper, stay calm’. The offended or riled person is about to take his shirt off ready for a fight. In lose your shirt or put your shirt on the shirt is seen as the very last possession that you could use to bet with.

Words that rhyme with short

abort, apport, assort, athwart, aught, besought, bethought, bort, bought, brought, caught, cavort, comport, consort, contort, Cort, court, distraught, escort, exhort, export, extort, fort, fought, fraught, import, methought, misreport, mort, naught, nought, Oort, ought, outfought, port, Porte, purport, quart, rort, snort, sort, sought, sport, support, swart, taught, taut, thought, thwart, tort, transport, wart, wrought

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: short

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