[ shawrt ]
See synonyms for: shortshortedshortershortest on

adjective,short·er, short·est.
  1. having little length; not long.

  2. having little height; not tall: a short man.

  1. extending or reaching only a little way: a short path.

  2. brief in duration; not extensive in time: a short wait.

  3. brief or concise, as writing.

  4. rudely brief; abrupt; brusque: short behavior.

  5. low in amount; scanty: short rations.

  6. not reaching a point, mark, target, or the like; not long enough or far enough.

  7. below the standard in extent, quantity, duration, etc.: short measure.

  8. having a scanty or insufficient amount of (often followed by in or on): He was short in experience.

  9. being below a necessary or desired level; lacking: The office is short due to winter colds and flu.

  10. Cooking.

    • (of pastry and the like) crisp and flaky; breaking or crumbling readily from being made with a large proportion of butter or other shortening.

    • (of dough) containing a relatively large amount of shortening.

  11. (of metals) deficient in tenacity; friable; brittle.

  12. (of the head or skull) of less than ordinary length from front to back.

  13. Stock Exchange.

    • not possessing at the time of sale commodities or stocks that one sells.

    • noting or pertaining to a sale of commodities or stocks that the seller does not possess, depending for profit on a decline in prices: You can cover your short transactions by purchasing securities in the distribution at the reduced price.

  14. Phonetics.

    • lasting a relatively short time: “Bit” has a shorter vowel-sound than “bid” or “bead.”

    • belonging to a class of sounds considered as usually shorter in duration than another class, as the vowel of but as compared to that of bought, and in many languages serving as a distinctive feature of phonemes, as the a in German Bann in contrast with the ah in Bahn, or the t in Italian fato in contrast with the tt in fatto (opposed to long).

    • having the sound of the English vowels in bat, bet, bit, hot, but, and put, historically descended from vowels that were short in duration.

  15. Prosody.

    • (of a syllable in quantitative verse) lasting a relatively shorter time than a long syllable.

  16. (of an alcoholic drink) small: a short drink.

  17. Chiefly British. (of whiskey) undiluted; straight.

  18. Ceramics. (of clay) not plastic enough to be modeled.

  19. Ropemaking. hard (def. 39).

  1. abruptly or suddenly: to stop short.

  1. on the near side of an intended or particular point: The arrow landed short.

  2. Baseball.

    • with the hands higher on the handle of the bat than usual: He held the bat short and flied out.

    • in a fielding position closer to home plate than usual.

  1. something that is short.

  2. that which is deficient or lacking.

  1. Usually the short . the sum and substance of a matter; gist: Here's the short of it: they broke up two weeks before the wedding.: See also long1 (def. 39).

  2. shorts,

    • trousers, knee-length or shorter.

    • short pants worn by men as an undergarment.

    • knee breeches, formerly worn by men.

    • Finance. short-term bonds.

    • Mining. crushed ore failing to pass through a given screen, thus being of a larger given size than a specific grade.: Compare fine1 (def. 31a).

    • remnants, discards, or refuse of various cutting and manufacturing processes.

  3. a size of garment for men who are shorter than average: He wears a 42 short.

  4. a garment, as a suit or overcoat, in such a size.

  5. Military. a shot that strikes or bursts short of the target.

  6. Electricity. short circuit.

  7. Prosody. a short sound or syllable.

  8. Movies. short subject.

  9. Finance. short seller.

  10. a deficiency or the amount of a deficiency.

  11. Chiefly British. a small drink of straight whiskey; shot.

verb (used with object)
  1. to cause a short circuit in.

  2. to cheat by giving less than is expected or deserved; shortchange.

  1. Stock Exchange. to sell (stocks, commodities, etc.) that one does not possess, with the intent of making a profit by purchasing them later at a lower price: He speculates on bubbles by shorting stocks that are overpriced, overhyped, and overdue for a slide.

verb (used without object)

Idioms about short

  1. cut short, to end abruptly; terminate: Her nap was cut short by a loud noise from outside.

  2. fall / come short,

    • to fail to reach a particular standard.

    • to prove insufficient; be lacking: Her funds fell short, and she had to wire home for help.

  1. for short, by way of abbreviation: Her name is Patricia, and she's called Pat for short.

  2. in short,

    • in summary.

    • in few words; in brief: In short, this has been rather a disappointing day.

  3. make short work of. work (def. 53).

  4. run short, to be in insufficient supply: My patience is running short.

  5. sell short,

    • Stock Exchange. to sell stocks or the like without having them in one's actual possession at the time of the sale.

    • to disparage or underestimate: Don't sell Tom short; he's really an excellent engineer.

  6. short and sweet. See entry at short and sweet.

  7. short for, being a shorter form of; abbreviated to: “Phone” is short for “telephone.”

  8. short of,

    • less than; inferior to.

    • inadequately supplied with (money, food, etc.).

    • without going to the length of; failing of; excluding: Short of murder, there is nothing he wouldn't have tried to get what he wanted.

Origin of short

First recorded before 900; Middle English adjective schort, Old English sceort; cognate with Old High German scurz “short,” Old Norse skortr “shortness, scarcity”

synonym study For short

4. Short, brief are opposed to long, and indicate slight extent or duration. Short may imply duration but is also applied to physical distance and certain purely spatial relations: a short journey. Brief refers especially to duration of time: brief intervals.

Other words for short

Opposites for short

Other words from short

  • short·ness, noun
  • o·ver·short, adjective
  • o·ver·short·ness, noun
  • un·short, adjective

Words Nearby short Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use short in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for short


/ (ʃɔːt) /

  1. of little length; not long

  2. of little height; not tall

  1. of limited duration

  2. not meeting a requirement; deficient: the number of places laid at the table was short by four

  3. (postpositive; often foll by of or on) lacking (in) or needful (of): I'm always short of money

  4. concise; succinct

  5. lacking in the power of retentiveness: a short memory

  6. abrupt to the point of rudeness: the salesgirl was very short with him

  7. finance

    • not possessing the securities or commodities that have been sold under contract and therefore obliged to make a purchase before the delivery date

    • of or relating to such sales, which depend on falling prices for profit

  8. phonetics

    • denoting a vowel of relatively brief temporal duration

    • classified as short, as distinguished from other vowels. Thus in English (ɪ) in bin, though of longer duration than () in beat, is nevertheless regarded as a short vowel

    • (in popular usage) denoting the qualities of the five English vowels represented orthographically in the words pat, pet, pit, pot, put, and putt

  9. prosody

    • denoting a vowel that is phonetically short or a syllable containing such a vowel. In classical verse short vowels are followed by one consonant only or sometimes one consonant plus a following l or r

    • (of a vowel or syllable in verse that is not quantitative) not carrying emphasis or accent; unstressed

  10. (of pastry) crumbly in texture: See also shortcrust pastry

  11. (of a drink of spirits) undiluted; neat

  12. (of betting odds) almost even

  13. have someone by the short and curlies informal to have (someone) completely in one's power

  14. in short supply scarce

  15. short and sweet unexpectedly brief

  16. short for an abbreviation for

  1. abruptly: to stop short

  2. briefly or concisely

  1. rudely or curtly

  2. finance without possessing the securities or commodities at the time of their contractual sale: to sell short

  3. caught short or taken short having a sudden need to urinate or defecate

  4. fall short

    • to prove inadequate

    • (often foll by of) to fail to reach or measure up to (a standard)

  5. go short not to have a sufficient amount, etc

  6. short of except: nothing short of a miracle can save him now

  1. anything that is short

  2. a drink of spirits as opposed to a long drink such as beer

  1. phonetics prosody a short vowel or syllable

  2. finance

    • a short contract or sale

    • a short seller

  3. a short film, usually of a factual nature

  4. for short informal as an abbreviation: he is called Jim for short

  5. in short

    • as a summary

    • in a few words

Origin of short

Old English scort; related to Old Norse skortr a lack, skera to cut, Old High German scurz short

Derived forms of short

  • shortness, noun

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 short


In addition to the idioms beginning with short

  • short and sweet
  • short end of the stick, the
  • short for
  • short haul
  • short notice, on
  • short of
  • short order
  • short run
  • short shrift, give

also see:

  • by the short hairs
  • caught short
  • cut short
  • fall short
  • for short
  • in brief (short)
  • in short order
  • in short supply
  • in the long (short) run
  • life is too short
  • long and short of it
  • long (short) haul
  • make a long story short
  • make short work of
  • nothing short of
  • run short
  • sell short
  • stop short

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