[ smawl ]
See synonyms for: smallsmallersmallestsmallness on

adjective,small·er, small·est.
  1. of limited size; of comparatively restricted dimensions; not big; little: a small box.

  2. slender, thin, or narrow: a small waist.

  1. not large as compared with others of the same kind: a small elephant.

  2. (of letters) lowercase (def. 1).

  3. not great in amount, degree, extent, duration, value, etc.: a small salary.

  4. not great numerically: a small army.

  5. of low numerical value; denoted by a low number.

  6. having but little land, capital, power, influence, etc., or carrying on business or some activity on a limited scale: a small enterprise.

  7. of minor importance, moment, weight, or consequence: a small problem.

  8. humble, modest, or unpretentious: small circumstances.

  9. characterized by or indicative of littleness of mind or character; mean-spirited; petty: a small, miserly man.

  10. of little strength or force: a small effort.

  11. (of sound or the voice) gentle; with little volume.

  12. very young: when I was a small boy.

  13. diluted; weak.

adverb,small·er, small·est.
  1. in a small manner: They talked big but lived small.

  2. into small pieces: Slice the cake small.

  1. in low tones; softly.

  1. something that is small: Do you prefer the small or the large?

  2. a small or narrow part, as of the back.

  1. those who are small: Democracy benefits the great and the small.

  2. smalls, small goods or products.

  3. smalls, British.

    • household linen, as napkins, pillowcases, etc.

  4. smalls, British Informal. the responsions at Oxford University.

  5. smalls, Mining. coal, ore, gangue, etc., in fine particles.

Idioms about small

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

Origin of small

First recorded before 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.

Other words for small

Opposites for small

Other words from small

  • smallness, noun
  • ul·tra·small, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use small in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for small


/ (smɔːl) /

  1. comparatively little; limited in size, number, importance, etc

  2. of little importance or on a minor scale: a small business

  1. lacking in moral or mental breadth or depth: a small mind

  2. modest or humble: small beginnings

  3. of low or inferior status, esp socially

  4. (of a child or animal) young; not mature

  5. unimportant, trivial: a small matter

  6. not outstanding: a small actor

  7. of, relating to, or designating the ordinary modern minuscule letter used in printing and cursive writing: Compare capital 1 (def. 13) See also lower case

  8. lacking great strength or force: a small effort

  9. in fine particles: small gravel

  10. obsolete (of beer, etc) of low alcoholic strength

  1. into small pieces: you have to cut it small

  2. in a small or soft manner

  1. feel small to be humiliated or inferior

  1. the small an object, person, or group considered to be small: do you want the small or the large?

  2. a small slender part, esp of the back

  1. (plural) informal, mainly British items of personal laundry, such as underwear

Origin of small

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

Derived forms of small

  • smallish, adjective
  • smallness, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with small


In addition to the idioms beginning with small

  • small beer
  • small cog in a large wheel
  • small frog in a big pond
  • small fry
  • small hours
  • small print
  • small talk
  • small time
  • small wonder

also see:

  • big fish in a small pond
  • (small) cog in the wheel
  • give thanks for small blessings
  • it's a small world
  • little (small) frog in a big pond
  • make a (small) fortune
  • no (small) wonder
  • still small voice

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