[ shawr-tn ]
See synonyms for: shortenshortenedshorteningshortens on

verb (used with object)
  1. to make short or shorter.

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

  1. to make (pastry, bread, etc.) short, as with butter or other fat.

  2. Sports. choke (def. 8).

verb (used without object)
  1. to become short or shorter.

  2. (of odds) to decrease.

Origin of shorten

First recorded in 1505–15; short + -en1

synonym study For shorten

1. 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.

Other words for shorten

Other words from shorten

  • 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

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

How to use shorten in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for shorten


/ (ˈʃɔːtən) /

  1. to make or become short or shorter

  2. (tr) nautical to reduce the area of (sail)

  1. (tr) to make (pastry, bread, etc) short, by adding butter or another fat

  2. gambling to cause (the odds) to lessen or (of odds) to become less

Derived forms of shorten

  • shortener, 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