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90s Slang You Should Know


[shawr-tn] /ˈʃɔr tn/
verb (used with object)
to make short or shorter.
to reduce, decrease, take in, etc.:
to shorten sail.
to make (pastry, bread, etc.) short, as with butter or other fat.
Sports. choke (def 8).
verb (used without object)
to become short or shorter.
(of odds) to decrease.
Origin of shorten
First recorded in 1505-15; short + -en1
Related forms
shortener, noun
overshorten, verb
preshorten, verb (used with object)
reshorten, verb
undershorten, verb (used with object)
unshorten, adjective
1. condense, lessen, limit, restrict. Shorten, abbreviate, abridge, curtail mean to make shorter or briefer. Shorten is a general word meaning to make less in extent or duration: to shorten a dress, a prisoner's sentence. The other three terms suggest methods of shortening. To abbreviate is to make shorter by omission or contraction: to abbreviate a word. To abridge is to reduce in length or size by condensing, summarizing, and the like: to abridge a document. Curtail suggests deprivation and lack of completeness because of omitting some part: to curtail an explanation. 5. contract, lessen. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for shorten
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her innate piety (as I have more than once observed) will not permit her to shorten her own life, either by violence or neglect.

    Clarissa, Volume 7 Samuel Richardson
  • Let us shorten the story wherever we can, for it will need it, being long.

    Life On The Mississippi, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • These tend to shorten the wind and should therefore be avoided.

    Training for the Trenches Leslie Vickers
  • Only every now and then he pined for wings to shorten the weary road.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • He began, therefore, to lessen the number, and shorten the length of his appearances in Addison Square.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
British Dictionary definitions for shorten


to make or become short or shorter
(transitive) (nautical) to reduce the area of (sail)
(transitive) to make (pastry, bread, etc) short, by adding butter or another fat
(gambling) to cause (the odds) to lessen or (of odds) to become less
Derived Forms
shortener, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shorten

1510s, "make shorter;" 1560s, "grow shorter," from short (adj.) + -en (1); the earlier form of the verb was simply short, from Old English sceortian "to grow short, become short; run short, fail," gescyrtan "to make short."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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