• synonyms


See more synonyms for small-time on Thesaurus.com
  1. of modest or insignificant size, importance, or influence: a small-time politician.
Show More

Origin of small-time

First recorded in 1910–15
Related formssmall-tim·er, noun

small time

noun (in vaudeville)
  1. a circuit of minor theaters giving three or more shows daily.
Show More

Origin of small time

An Americanism dating back to 1920–25
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

petty, bush-league, dinky, inconsequential, insignificant, low, piddling, secondary, trivial, two-bit, unimportant, inconsiderable

Examples from the Web for small-time

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It's no job at all to run a bluff on a small-time crook like that.

    The Brand of Silence

    Harrington Strong

  • The old school spirit was okay for football games, and even for small-time wars, but he had never felt much of it.

    Way of a Rebel

    Walter M. Miller

  • You may have a year of doing three or four shows a day on "small-time," as it is called, which is splendid experience for you.

British Dictionary definitions for small-time


  1. informal insignificant; minora small-time criminal
Show More
Derived Formssmall-timer, 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 small-time


1910, originally theater slang for lower-salaried circuits, or ones requiring more daily performances; from noun phrase (also 1910). Cf. big time.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with small-time

small time

A modest or minor level of achievement, as in Her success took her out of the small time to prime-time television. This expression was originally used in vaudeville for second-rate theaters and productions. [Early 1900s] Also see big time, def. 2.

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