Frank,born 1947, U.S. marathon runner.
Wayne,born 1933, U.S. jazz saxophonist and composer.



adjective, short·er, short·est.

having little length; not long.
having little height; not tall: a short man.
extending or reaching only a little way: a short path.
brief in duration; not extensive in time: a short wait.
brief or concise, as writing.
rudely brief; abrupt; hurting: short behavior.
low in amount; scanty: short rations.
not reaching a point, mark, target, or the like; not long enough or far enough.
below the standard in extent, quantity, duration, etc.: short measure.
having a scanty or insufficient amount of (often followed by in or on): He was short in experience.
being below a necessary or desired level; lacking: The office is short due to winter colds and flu.
  1. (of pastry and the like) crisp and flaky; breaking or crumbling readily from being made with a large proportion of butter or other shortening.
  2. (of dough) containing a relatively large amount of shortening.
(of metals) deficient in tenacity; friable; brittle.
(of the head or skull) of less than ordinary length from front to back.
Stock Exchange.
  1. not possessing at the time of sale commodities or stocks that one sells.
  2. noting or pertaining to a sale of commodities or stocks that the seller does not possess, depending for profit on a decline in prices.
  1. lasting a relatively short time: “Bit” has a shorter vowel-sound than “bid” or “bead.”
  2. 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).
  3. having the sound of the English vowels in bat, bet, bit, hot, but, and put, historically descended from vowels that were short in duration.
  1. (of a syllable in quantitative verse) lasting a relatively shorter time than a long syllable.
  2. unstressed(def 1).
(of an alcoholic drink) small: a short drink.
Chiefly British. (of whiskey) undiluted; straight.
Ceramics. (of clay) not plastic enough to be modeled.
Ropemaking. hard(def 39).


abruptly or suddenly: to stop short.
briefly; curtly.
on the near side of an intended or particular point: The arrow landed short.
  1. with the hands higher on the handle of the bat than usual: He held the bat short and flied out.
  2. in a fielding position closer to home plate than usual.


something that is short.
that which is deficient or lacking.
the sum and substance of a matter; gist (usually preceded by the).
  1. trousers, knee-length or shorter.
  2. short pants worn by men as an undergarment.
  3. knee breeches, formerly worn by men.
  4. Finance.short-term bonds.
  5. Mining.crushed ore failing to pass through a given screen, thus being of a larger given size than a specific grade.Compare fine1(def 28a).
  6. remnants, discards, or refuse of various cutting and manufacturing processes.
a size of garment for men who are shorter than average: He wears a 42 short.
a garment, as a suit or overcoat, in such a size.
Military. a shot that strikes or bursts short of the target.
Electricity. short circuit.
Prosody. a short sound or syllable.
Baseball. shortstop(def 1).
Movies. short subject.
Finance. short seller.
a deficiency or the amount of a deficiency.
Chiefly British. a small drink of straight whiskey; shot.

verb (used with object)

to cause a short circuit in.
to cheat by giving less than is expected or deserved; shortchange.

verb (used without object)

to short-circuit.

Origin of short

before 900; Middle English schort (adj.), Old English sceort; cognate with Old High German scurz short, Old Norse skortr shortness, scarcity
Related formsshort·ness, nouno·ver·short, adjectiveo·ver·short·ness, nounun·short, adjective

Synonyms 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. 5. terse, succinct, laconic, condensed. 6. curt, sharp, testy. 7. poor, deficient, inadequate, wanting, lacking. 12. crumbly. 14. brachycephalic.

Antonyms for short

3, 4. long. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shorter

Contemporary Examples of shorter

Historical Examples of shorter

British Dictionary definitions for shorter



of little length; not long
of little height; not tall
of limited duration
not meeting a requirement; deficientthe number of places laid at the table was short by four
(postpositive; often foll by of or on) lacking (in) or needful (of)I'm always short of money
concise; succinct
lacking in the power of retentivenessa short memory
abrupt to the point of rudenessthe salesgirl was very short with him
  1. not possessing the securities or commodities that have been sold under contract and therefore obliged to make a purchase before the delivery date
  2. of or relating to such sales, which depend on falling prices for profit
  1. denoting a vowel of relatively brief temporal duration
  2. 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
  3. (in popular usage) denoting the qualities of the five English vowels represented orthographically in the words pat, pet, pit, pot, put, and putt
  1. 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
  2. (of a vowel or syllable in verse that is not quantitative) not carrying emphasis or accent; unstressed
(of pastry) crumbly in textureSee also shortcrust pastry
(of a drink of spirits) undiluted; neat
(of betting odds) almost even
have someone by the short and curlies informal to have (someone) completely in one's power
in short supply scarce
short and sweet unexpectedly brief
short for an abbreviation for


abruptlyto stop short
briefly or concisely
rudely or curtly
finance without possessing the securities or commodities at the time of their contractual saleto sell short
caught short or taken short having a sudden need to urinate or defecate
fall short
  1. to prove inadequate
  2. (often foll by of)to fail to reach or measure up to (a standard)
go short not to have a sufficient amount, etc
short of exceptnothing short of a miracle can save him now


anything that is short
a drink of spirits as opposed to a long drink such as beer
phonetics prosody a short vowel or syllable
  1. a short contract or sale
  2. a short seller
a short film, usually of a factual nature
for short informal as an abbreviationhe is called Jim for short
in short
  1. as a summary
  2. in a few words


See also shorts
Derived Formsshortness, noun

Word Origin for short

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



Old English sceort, scort "short, not long, not tall; brief," probably from Proto-Germanic *skurta- (cf. Old Norse skorta "to be short of," skort "shortness;" Old High German scurz "short"), from PIE root *(s)ker- (1) "to cut," with notion of "something cut off" (cf. Sanskrit krdhuh "shortened, maimed, small;" Latin curtus "short," cordus "late-born," originally "stunted in growth;" Old Church Slavonic kratuku, Russian korotkij "short;" Lithuanian skurstu "to be stunted," skardus "steep;" Old Irish cert "small," Middle Irish corr "stunted, dwarfish").

Meaning "having an insufficient quantity" is from 1690s. Meaning "rude" is attested from late 14c. Meaning "easily provoked" is from 1590s; perhaps the notion is of being "not long in tolerating." Short fuse in figurative sense of "quick temper" first attested 1968. To fall short is from archery. Short run "relatively brief period of time" is from 1879. Short story first recorded 1877. To make short work of "dispose of quickly" is first attested 1570s. Phrase short and sweet is from 1530s. To be short by the knees (1733) was to be kneeling; to be short by the head (1540s) was to be beheaded.



1580s, the short "the result, the total," from short (adj.). Meaning "electrical short circuit" first recorded 1906 (see short circuit). Meaning "contraction of a name or phrase" is from 1873 (as in for short). Slang meaning "car" is attested from 1897; originally "street car," so called because street cars (or the rides taken in them) were "shorter" than railroad cars.



Old English sceortian "to grow short, become short; run short, fail," from the source of short (adj.). Transitive meaning "make short" is from late 12c. Meaning "to short-circuit" is by 1904. Related: Shorted; shorting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shorter


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.