View synonyms for little


[ lit-l ]


, lit·tler or less or less·er, lit·tlest or least.
  1. small in size; not big; not large; tiny:

    a little desk in the corner of the room.

    Synonyms: wee, teeny, tiny

  2. short in duration; not extensive; short; brief:

    a little while.

    Synonyms: wee, teeny, tiny

  3. small in number:

    a little group of scientists.

    Synonyms: wee, teeny, tiny

  4. small in amount or degree; not much:

    little hope.

    Synonyms: wee, teeny, tiny

  5. of a certain amount; appreciable (usually preceded by a ):

    We're having a little difficulty.

  6. being such on a small scale:

    little farmers.

  7. younger or youngest:

    He's my little brother.

  8. not strong, forceful, or loud; weak:

    a little voice.

  9. small in consideration, importance, position, affluence, etc.:

    little discomforts;

    tax reductions to help the little fellow.

  10. mean, narrow, or illiberal:

    a little mind.

  11. endearingly small or considered as such:

    Bless your little heart!

  12. amusingly small or so considered:

    a funny little way of laughing.

  13. contemptibly small, petty, mean, etc., or so considered:

    filthy little political tricks.


, less, least.
  1. not at all (used before a verb):

    He little knows what awaits him.

  2. in only a small amount or degree; not much; slightly:

    a little-known work of art;

    little better than a previous effort.

  3. seldom; rarely; infrequently:

    We see each other very little.


  1. a small amount, quantity, or degree:

    They did little to make him comfortable.

    If you want some ice cream, there's a little in the refrigerator.

  2. a short distance:

    It's down the road a little.

  3. a short time:

    Stay here for a little.


/ ˈlɪtəl /


  1. often preceded by a
    1. a small quantity, extent, or duration of

      very little milk

      the little hope there is left

    2. ( as pronoun )

      save a little for me

  2. not much

    little damage was done

  3. make little of
    See make of
  4. not a little
    1. very
    2. a lot
  5. quite a little
    a considerable amount
  6. think little of
    to have a low opinion of


  1. of small or less than average size
  2. young

    our little ones

    a little boy

  3. endearingly familiar; dear

    my husband's little ways

  4. contemptible, mean, or disagreeable

    your filthy little mind

  5. (of a region or district) resembling another country or town in miniature

    little Venice

  6. little game
    a person's secret intention or business

    so that's his little game!

  7. no little


  1. usually preceded by a in a small amount; to a small extent or degree; not a lot

    to laugh a little

  2. used preceding a verb not at all, or hardly

    he little realized his fate

  3. not much or often

    we go there very little now

  4. little by little
    by small degrees

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Other Words From

  • lit·tlish [lit, -l-ish, lit, -lish], adjective
  • little·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of little1

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

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Word History and Origins

Origin of little1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. in little, on a small scale; in miniature:

    a replica in little of Independence Hall.

  2. little by little, by small degrees; gradually:

    The water level rose little by little.

  3. make little of,
    1. to belittle:

      to make little of one's troubles.

    2. to understand or interpret only slightly:

      Scholars made little of the newly discovered text.

  4. not a little, to a great extent; very much; considerably:

    It tired me not a little to stand for three hours.

  5. think little of, to treat casually; regard as trivial:

    They think little of driving 50 miles to see a movie.

More idioms and phrases containing little

  • a little
  • every little bit helps
  • in one's own (little) world
  • make little of
  • precious few (little)
  • think little of
  • to little purpose
  • too little, too late

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

Mounting a winch can take a little time, and you’ll usually need a bracket specific to your ATV, but it’s not all that difficult.

We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five.

A little more than a month ago, the Big Ten became the first major conference to postpone the season.

Later, a researcher from Yale and Pew Research Center conducted separate tests that also found little to no evidence in support of the claim.

Separately, the CEO of TripAction says business travel has picked up a little recently, but is still down about 80% since February—compared to the 90% drop in March.

From Fortune

But Babylon asks us to do a little more: It wants us to empathize.

Everybody is trapped in an elevator together and tempers run a little hot.

How about baby drama with little Abijean and the Wee Baby Seamus?

I was a little mystified at how benignly he responded to my questions about his business activities.

Scalise spoke briefly, adding little of substance, saying that the people back home know him best.

It is most peculiar, and when he plays that way, the most bewitching little expression comes over his face.

In less than ten minutes, the bivouac was broken up, and our little army on the march.

A little boy of four was moved to passionate grief at the sight of a dead dog taken from a pond.

Squinty could look out, but the slats were as close together as those in a chicken coop, and the little pig could not get out.

We should have to admit that the new law does little or nothing to relieve such a situation.


Related Words

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More About Little

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.

Did you know ... ?

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.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




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