[ lit-l ]
/ ˈlɪt l /
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See synonyms for: little / least / lesser / less on Thesaurus.com

adjective, lit·tler or less or less·er, lit·tlest or least.
adverb, less, least.
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Idioms about little

Origin of little

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English lȳtel (lȳt “few, small” + -el diminutive suffix), cognate with Dutch luttel, Old High German luzzil, Old Norse lītill

synonym study for little

1-4. Little, diminutive, minute, small refer to that which is not large or significant. Little (the opposite of big ) is very general, covering size, extent, number, quantity, amount, duration, or degree: a little boy; a little time. Small (the opposite of large and of great ) can many times be used interchangeably with little, but is especially applied to what is limited or below the average in size: small oranges. Diminutive denotes (usually physical) size that is much less than the average or ordinary; it may suggest delicacy: the baby's diminutive fingers; diminutive in size but autocratic in manner. Minute suggests that which is so tiny it is difficult to discern, or that which implies attentiveness to the smallest details: a minute quantity; a minute exam.


lit·tlish [lit-l-ish, lit-lish], /ˈlɪt l ɪʃ, ˈlɪt lɪʃ/, adjectivelit·tle·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of little?

Little describes something that is small in size. Little also describes a short time. And little can refer to a small amount of something. Little has many other senses as an adjective, adverb, and noun.

If something is little, it is tiny or physically small. Little is the opposite of words like big, huge, and gigantic. The noun form of this sense is littleness.

Real-life examples: Newborn babies are little. A single grain of sand is little. A dime is a little coin compared to quarters and nickels.

Used in a sentence: I found a little piece of paper tucked inside the small book. 

Little also describes a short amount of time. This sense is commonly used as “a little while” or “a little bit.” This sense is a synonym of words like brief or short.

Real-life examples: A five-minute rest is a little break. You might go away for a weekend and call it a little vacation. You might stay at a friend’s house for a little while before saying goodbye. And 367 days is a little over a year.

Used in a sentence: We stopped at the gas station for a little bit to fill up the car before continuing our trip. 

Little can also describe a small amount of something.

Real-life examples: A chef might add a little salt to a recipe. There might be a little rain on a cloudy day. A new chess player usually has little chance of beating a professional.

Used in a sentence: She added to the romantic atmosphere by playing a little music. 

Little is also used in this sense as a noun.

Used in a sentence: If you are looking for paint, there is a little in the supply closet.

Where does little come from?

The first records of little come from before the 900s. It ultimately comes from the Old English lȳtel, a diminutive of the word lȳt, meaning “few” or “small.” Lȳtel is related to the Dutch luttel and the Old Norse lītill.

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What are some other forms related to little?

What are some synonyms for little?

What are some words that often get used in discussing little?

How is little used in real life?

Little is a very common word often used to mean something is small, short, or of a low quantity.



Try using little!

Is little used correctly in the following sentence?

The fence stops big animals, but little animals can still squeeze through the small gaps.

How to use little in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for little

/ (ˈlɪtəl) /


Word Origin for little

Old English lӯtel; related to lӯr few, Old High German luzzil
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with little


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.