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
toy, baby;
poky, cramped, boxy
informal teeny, teensy, itsy-bitsy, itty-bitty, pocket-sized, half-pint, little-bitty
Scottish wee
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 meantcatholic” 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.

Origin

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

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.

Definition of small in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day retroflex
Pronunciation: ˈretrəˌfleks
adjective
turned backward