[ lit-l ]
/ ˈlɪt l /
adjective, lit·tler or less or less·er, lit·tlest or least.
small in size; not big; not large; tiny: a little desk in the corner of the room.
short in duration; not extensive; short; brief: a little while.
small in number: a little group of scientists.
small in amount or degree; not much: little hope.
of a certain amount; appreciable (usually preceded by a): We're having a little difficulty.
being such on a small scale: little farmers.
younger or youngest: He's my little brother.
not strong, forceful, or loud; weak: a little voice.
small in consideration, importance, position, affluence, etc.: little discomforts; tax reductions to help the little fellow.
mean, narrow, or illiberal: a little mind.
endearingly small or considered as such: Bless your little heart!
amusingly small or so considered: a funny little way of laughing.
contemptibly small, petty, mean, etc., or so considered: filthy little political tricks.
adverb, less, least.
not at all (used before a verb): He little knows what awaits him.
in only a small amount or degree; not much; slightly: a little-known work of art; little better than a previous effort.
seldom; rarely; infrequently: We see each other very little.
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.
a short distance: It's down the road a little.
a short time: Stay here for a little.
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in little, on a small scale; in miniature: a replica in little of Independence Hall.
little by little, by small degrees; gradually: The water level rose little by little.
- belittle: to make little of one's troubles.
- to understand or interpret only slightly: Scholars made little of the newly discovered text.
make little of,
not a little, to a great extent; very much; considerably: It tired me not a little to stand for three hours.
think little of, to treat casually; regard as trivial: They think little of driving 50 miles to see a movie.
Origin of little
before 900; Middle English, Old English lȳtel (lȳt few, small + -el diminutive suffix), cognate with Dutch luttel, Old High German luzzil, Old Norse lītill
SYNONYMS FOR little
1–4 tiny, teeny, wee. 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.
Related formslit·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. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for little by little
/ (ˈlɪtəl) /
(often preceded by a)
- a small quantity, extent, or duration ofthe little hope there is left; very little milk
- (as pronoun)save a little for me
not muchlittle damage was done
make little of See make of (def. 3)
not a little
- a lot
quite a little a considerable amount
think little of to have a low opinion of
of small or less than average size
younga little boy; our little ones
endearingly familiar; dearmy husband's little ways
contemptible, mean, or disagreeableyour filthy little mind
(of a region or district) resembling another country or town in miniaturelittle Venice
little game a person's secret intention or businessso that's his little game!
no little considerable
(usually preceded by a) in a small amount; to a small extent or degree; not a lotto laugh a little
(used preceding a verb) not at all, or hardlyhe little realized his fate
not much or oftenwe go there very little now
little by little by small degrees
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
Idioms and Phrases with little by little (1 of 2)
little by little
see bit by bit.
Idioms and Phrases with little by little (2 of 2)
In addition to the idioms beginning with little
- little bird told one, a
- little by little
- little frog in a big pond
- little knowledge is a dangerous thing, a
- little pitchers have big ears
- 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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.