• synonyms


[shawrt-ning, shawr-tn-ing]
See more synonyms for shortening on Thesaurus.com
  1. butter, lard, or other fat, used to make pastry, bread, etc., short.
  2. Phonetics. the act, process, or an instance of making or becoming short.
  3. Linguistics.
    1. the act or process of dropping one or more syllables from a word or phrase to form a shorter word with the same meaning, as in forming piano from pianoforte or phone from telephone.
    2. clipped form.
Show More

Origin of shortening

First recorded in 1535–45; shorten + -ing1


verb (used with object)
  1. to make short or shorter.
  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).
Show More
verb (used without object)
  1. to become short or shorter.
  2. (of odds) to decrease.
Show More

Origin of shorten

First recorded in 1505–15; short + -en1
Related formsshort·en·er, nouno·ver·short·en, verbpre·short·en, verb (used with object)re·short·en, verbun·der·short·en, verb (used with object)un·short·en, adjective

Synonyms for shorten

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. condense, lessen, limit, restrict. 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. 5. contract, lessen.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shortening

abbreviation, reduction, curtailment, contraction, retrenchment

Examples from the Web for shortening

Contemporary Examples of shortening

Historical Examples of shortening

British Dictionary definitions for shortening


  1. butter, lard, or other fat, used in a dough, cake mixture, etc, to make the mixture short
Show More


  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
Show More
Derived Formsshortener, 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

Word Origin and History for shortening


1540s, "action of making short," verbal noun from shorten. Meaning "butter or other fat used in baking" (1796) is from shorten in the sense "make crumbly" (1733), from short (adj.) in the secondary sense of "easily crumbled" (early 15c.), which perhaps arose via the notion of "having short fibers." This is the short in shortbread and shortcake.

Show More



1510s, "make shorter;" 1560s, "grow shorter," from short (adj.) + -en (1); the earlier form of the verb was simply short, from Old English sceortian "to grow short, become short; run short, fail," gescyrtan "to make short."

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper