[ smawl ]
/ smɔl /
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See synonyms for: small / smaller / smallest / smallness on Thesaurus.com

adjective, small·er, small·est.
adverb, small·er, small·est.
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Idioms about small

    feel small, to be ashamed or mortified: Her unselfishness made me feel small.

Origin of small

First recordedbefore 900; Middle English smale, Old English smæl; cognate with Dutch smal, German schmal

synonym study for small

1. See little. 1, 3, 5. Smaller, less indicate a diminution, or not so large a size or quantity in some respect. Smaller, as applied to concrete objects, is used with reference to size: smaller apples. Less is used of material in bulk, with reference to amount, and in cases where attributes such as value and degree are in question: A nickel is less than a dime (in value). A sergeant is less than a lieutenant (in rank). As an abstraction, amount may be either smaller or less, though smaller is usually used when the idea of size is suggested: a smaller opportunity. Less is used when the idea of quantity is present: less courage.


smallness, nounul·tra·small, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What is a basic definition of small?

Small is an adjective that describes something as little or not of large size. Small can also describe something as being low in number or amount. Small has many other senses as an adjective, adverb, and noun and is used in several idioms.

If something or someone is small, they are little or diminutive. They are physically short or take up a low amount of physical space. Small can also describe something as being less big than other similar things. For example, a pony is a small horse. The noun form of this sense of small is smallness.

  • Real-life examples: Chihuahuas are small dogs. Ants are small animals. A dime is a small coin.
  • Used in a sentence: The letters were too small to read. 

Small also describes something as being low in number.

  • Real-life examples: A group of 100 soldiers is a very small army. A town that only has 30 people living in it has a small population.
  • Used in a sentence: I started my business with a small team of trusted friends. 

Small can also describe something as not being of a large amount or great degree.

  • Used in a sentence: She won a few small bets before betting it all and winning the jackpot.

Where does small come from?

The first records of small come from before 900. It ultimately comes from the Old English smæl and is related to the Dutch smal and the German schmal.

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What are some other forms related to small?

  • smallness (noun)
  • ultrasmall (adjective)
  • smallish (adjective)

What are some synonyms for small?

What are some words that share a root or word element with small

What are some words that often get used in discussing small?

How is small used in real life?

Small is a very common word used to mean something is little, low in number, or low in amount.

Try using small!

Is small used correctly in the following sentence?

The box was too small to hold my TV, so I had to find a bigger box.

How to use small in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for small

/ (smɔːl) /


Derived forms of small

smallish, adjectivesmallness, noun

Word Origin for small

Old English smæl; related to Old High German smal, Old Norse smali small cattle
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 small


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