View synonyms for shorten


[ shawr-tn ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to make short or shorter.

    Synonyms: restrict, limit, lessen, condense

  2. to reduce, decrease, take in, etc.:

    to shorten sail.

  3. to make (pastry, bread, etc.) short, as with butter or other fat.
  4. Sports. choke ( def 8 ).

verb (used without object)

  1. to become short or shorter.

    Synonyms: lessen, contract

  2. (of odds) to decrease.


/ ˈʃɔːtən /


  1. to make or become short or shorter
  2. tr nautical to reduce the area of (sail)
  3. tr to make (pastry, bread, etc) short, by adding butter or another fat
  4. gambling to cause (the odds) to lessen or (of odds) to become less

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Derived Forms

  • ˈshortener, noun

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Other Words From

  • shorten·er noun
  • over·shorten verb
  • pre·shorten verb (used with object)
  • re·shorten verb
  • under·shorten verb (used with object)
  • un·shorten adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of shorten1

First recorded in 1505–15; short + -en 1

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Synonym Study

Shorten, abbreviate, abridge, curtail mean to make shorter or briefer. Shorten is a general word meaning to make less in extent or duration: to shorten a dress, a prisoner's sentence. The other three terms suggest methods of shortening. To abbreviate is to make shorter by omission or contraction: to abbreviate a word. To abridge is to reduce in length or size by condensing, summarizing, and the like: to abridge a document. Curtail suggests deprivation and lack of completeness because of omitting some part: to curtail an explanation.

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Example Sentences

The second shortened the amount of time laid-off employees have to decide whether they want to come back.

Advertisers followed through on their plans to negotiate options to cancel a higher amount of their committed ad dollars and to shorten the deadlines for when cancelation requests need to be submitted before a quarter begins.

From Digiday

The tools Cleveland uses are meant in part to shorten the throwing motion.

Response times shortened vastly as Mayo Clinic and these partners focused on an immediate shared goal.

From Fortune

The 20th amendment was ratified to shorten the period between the presidential election in November and the inauguration, which had been in March.

“In some cases, it has taken 15 days to report the deaths and circumstances, which I would like to shorten to 48 hours,” she said.

We have to shorten the distance between inevitable and inconceivable.

Just like nobody is going to tell David O. Russell to shorten American Hustle (138 minutes).

A new study says living in the South will shorten your life.

We have to overturn Citizens United and shorten the campaign season.

The law still branded as conspiracy any united attempt of workingmen to raise wages or to shorten the hours of work.

If your neighbor seems disposed to shorten the time by conversing, do not be too hasty in checking him.

In spite, however, of the strong wind, neither the smugglers nor those on board the cruiser appeared inclined to shorten sail.

On the 15th of May Mr. Tennyson submitted a motion for leave to introduce a bill to shorten the duration of parliaments.

The committee decided to run up signal to shorten course and conclude at the first round.





short-eared owlshortened form