- of limited size; of comparatively restricted dimensions; not big; little: a small box.
- slender, thin, or narrow: a small waist.
- not large as compared with others of the same kind: a small elephant.
- (of letters) lowercase(def 1).
- not great in amount, degree, extent, duration, value, etc.: a small salary.
- not great numerically: a small army.
- of low numerical value; denoted by a low number.
- having but little land, capital, power, influence, etc., or carrying on business or some activity on a limited scale: a small enterprise.
- of minor importance, moment, weight, or consequence: a small problem.
- humble, modest, or unpretentious: small circumstances.
- characterized by or indicative of littleness of mind or character; mean-spirited; petty: a small, miserly man.
- of little strength or force: a small effort.
- (of sound or the voice) gentle; with little volume.
- very young: when I was a small boy.
- diluted; weak.
- in a small manner: They talked big but lived small.
- into small pieces: Slice the cake small.
- in low tones; softly.
- something that is small: Do you prefer the small or the large?
- a small or narrow part, as of the back.
- those who are small: Democracy benefits the great and the small.
- smalls, small goods or products.
- smalls, British.
- household linen, as napkins, pillowcases, etc.
- smalls, British Informal. the responsions at Oxford University.
- smalls, Mining. coal, ore, gangue, etc., in fine particles.
- feel small, to be ashamed or mortified: Her unselfishness made me feel small.
Origin of small
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for small
Something like fluoride, which is too small for normal filters, yanks away that feeling of agency.Anti-Fluoriders Are The OG Anti-Vaxxers
July 27, 2016
And yes, someone has already called Spencer a “Small Fry,” har har.Freaking Out About Age Gaps in Gay Relationships Is Homophobic
January 9, 2015
It was seen by a small delegation of star-struck prelates and dignitaries who later described the film as “moving.”Pope Francis Has the Pleasure of Meeting Angelina Jolie for a Few Seconds
Barbie Latza Nadeau
January 8, 2015
The judges who handle arraignments at criminal court in all five boroughs have a small fraction of their usual caseloads.Shot Down During the NYPD Slowdown
January 7, 2015
Inside the guild, men in caps and long gowns sit in twos, weaving together in small rooms.The Photographer Who Gave Up Manhattan for Marrakech
January 6, 2015
She's one of the build that aren't so big as they look, nor yet so small as they look.
Obulus, (plural Oboli)—A small coin, about the value of a penny.Philothea
Lydia Maria Child
So small was it that to have gone a few feet to either side would have been to miss it.
He caught but two fish, and they were so small that he decided not to offer them for sale.Brave and Bold
Over the seat is a mirror cut into small squares by wooden muntins.
- comparatively little; limited in size, number, importance, etc
- of little importance or on a minor scalea small business
- lacking in moral or mental breadth or deptha small mind
- modest or humblesmall beginnings
- of low or inferior status, esp socially
- (of a child or animal) young; not mature
- unimportant, triviala small matter
- not outstandinga small actor
- of, relating to, or designating the ordinary modern minuscule letter used in printing and cursive writingCompare capital 1 (def. 13) See also lower case
- lacking great strength or forcea small effort
- in fine particlessmall gravel
- obsolete (of beer, etc) of low alcoholic strength
- into small piecesyou have to cut it small
- in a small or soft manner
- feel small to be humiliated or inferior
- the small an object, person, or group considered to be smalldo you want the small or the large?
- a small slender part, esp of the back
- (plural) informal, mainly British items of personal laundry, such as underwear
Word Origin and History for small
Old English smæl "thin, slender, narrow; fine," from Proto-Germanic *smal- "small animal; small" (cf. Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Middle Dutch, Dutch, Old High German smal, Old Frisian smel, German schmal "narrow, slender," Gothic smalista "smallest," Old Norse smali "small cattle, sheep"), perhaps from a PIE root *(s)melo- "smaller animal" (cf. Greek melon, Old Irish mil "a small animal;" Old Church Slavonic malu "bad"). Original sense of "narrow" now almost obsolete, except in reference to waistline and intestines.
My sister ... is as white as a lilly, and as small as a wand. [Shakespeare, "Two Gentlemen of Verona," 1591]
Sense of "not large, of little size" developed in Old English. Of children, "young," from mid-13c. Meaning "inferior in degree or amount" is from late 13c. Meaning "trivial, unimportant" is from mid-14c. Sense of "having little property or trade" is from 1746. That of "characterized by littleness of mind or spirit, base, low, mean" is from 1824. As an adverb by late 14c.
Small fry, first recorded 1690s of little fish, 1885 of insignificant people. Small potatoes "no great matter" first attested 1924; small change "something of little value" is from 1902; small talk "chit-chat, trifling conversation" (1751) first recorded in Chesterfield's "Letters." Small world as a comment upon an unexpected meeting of acquaintances is recorded from 1895. Small-arms, indicating those capable of being carried in the hand (contrasted to ordnance) is recorded from 1710.
early 13c., "small person or animal," from small (adj.). From c.1300 as "persons of low rank" (opposed to great); late 15c. as "the small part" of something (e.g. small of the back, 1530s).
Idioms and Phrases with small
In addition to the idioms beginning with small
- small beer
- small cog in a large wheel
- small frog in a big pond
- small fry
- small hours
- small print
- small talk
- small time
- small wonder
, also see
- big fish in a small pond
- (small) cog in the wheel
- give thanks for small blessings
- it's a small world
- little (small) frog in a big pond
- make a (small) fortune
- no (small) wonder
- still small voice