- 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 smallness
Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, in smallness and in height.For Short Men in 2014, The News Is Surprisingly Good
September 13, 2014
Their smallness brings us back to ourselves, marshals our focus, endows the future with its potential, its possibility.The Promise of Happiness After the Newtown Shooting
January 27, 2013
The Daily Pic: Corban Walker expands on issues of smallness.Large as Life
November 26, 2012
Indeed what's most depressing about Ngai's terms is their smallness, their triviality.Zany, Cute, Interesting: What the Words We Use Say About Us
October 23, 2012
And he portrays himself as the candidate of big ideas who struggles with the smallness of American politics.Newt Gingrich’s Zombie Campaign, Neither Dead nor Alive
March 29, 2012
That which added to the cruelty was, the smallness of the fire.Female Scripture Biographies, Vol. II
Francis Augustus Cox
Was this a trifle, which only the Gholson-like smallness of my soul made spectral?The Cavalier
George Washington Cable
Parvus means small; so named from the smallness of the plant.The Mushroom, Edible and Otherwise
M. E. Hard
But is this equally true of the greatness and smallness of the fingers?The Republic
Then smallness cannot be in the whole of one, but, if at all, in a part only?Parmenides
- 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 smallness
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 smallness
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