Definition of small in English:

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Pronunciation: /smôl/


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.
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  wee
short, 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.
slight, minor, unimportant, trifling, trivial, insignificant, inconsequential, negligible, nugatory, infinitesimal
informal minuscule, piffling, piddling
Law  de minimis
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.
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


(smalls) British informal
Small items of clothing, especially underwear.
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…


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.



feel (or look) small

Feel (or look) contemptibly weak or insignificant.
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.
foolish, stupid, insignificant, unimportant;
embarrassed, humiliated, uncomfortable, mortified, ashamed;

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.
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.
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


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

  • A word recorded since around ad 700. In Old English it could refer to something slender or narrow as well as something more generally of less than usual size. From the 16th century small beer was a term for weaker beer, the sort that people drank for breakfast when water supplies were unsafe. In Macbeth Iago dismisses women as fit only to ‘chronicle small beer’, and from this sort of use developed the sense of something insignificant. Small potatoes started out as a phrase in American English, usually in the fuller form small potatoes and few in the hill—an expression used by Davy Crockett in 1836. The phrase small is beautiful, suggesting that something small-scale is better than a large-scale equivalent, comes from the title of a book by E. F. Schumacher, published in 1973. It is perhaps best known as a slogan adopted by environmentalists.

Words that rhyme with small

all, appal (US appall), awl, Bacall, ball, bawl, befall, Bengal, brawl, call, caul, crawl, Donegal, drawl, drywall, enthral (US enthrall), fall, forestall, gall, Galle, Gaul, hall, haul, maul, miaul, miscall, Montreal, Naipaul, Nepal, orle, pall, Paul, pawl, Saul, schorl, scrawl, seawall, Senegal, shawl, sprawl, squall, stall, stonewall, tall, thrall, trawl, wall, waul, wherewithal, withal, yawl

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: small

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