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little Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a small amount or duration
    • he accepted the little they gave him
  2. adjective limited or below average in number or quantity or magnitude or extent
    • a little dining room
    • a little house
    • a small car
    • a little (or small) group
  3. adjective (quantifier used with mass nouns) small in quantity or degree; not much or almost none or (with `a') at least some
    • little rain fell in May
    • gave it little thought
    • little time is left
    • we still have little money
    • a little hope remained
    • there's slight chance that it will work
    • there's a slight chance it will work
  4. adjective satellite (of children and animals) young, immature
    • what a big little boy you are
    • small children
  5. adjective satellite (informal) small and of little importance
    petty; footling; piffling; niggling; trivial; piddling; fiddling; picayune; lilliputian.
    • a fiddling sum of money
    • a footling gesture
    • our worries are lilliputian compared with those of countries that are at war
    • a little (or small) matter
    • a dispute over niggling details
    • limited to petty enterprises
    • piffling efforts
    • giving a police officer a free meal may be against the law, but it seems to be a picayune infraction
  6. adjective satellite (of a voice) faint
    • a little voice
    • a still small voice
  7. adjective low in stature; not tall
    • he was short and stocky
    • short in stature
    • a short smokestack
    • a little man
  8. adjective satellite lowercase
    small; minuscule.
    • little a
    • small a
    • e.e.cummings's poetry is written all in minuscule letters
  9. adjective satellite small in a way that arouses feelings (of tenderness or its opposite depending on the context)
    • a nice little job
    • bless your little heart
    • my dear little mother
    • a sweet little deal
    • I'm tired of your petty little schemes
    • filthy little tricks
    • what a nasty little situation
  10. adverb not much
    • he talked little about his family

Lit"tle adjective
OE. litel, lutel, AS. ltel, litel, lt; akin to OS. littil, D. luttel, LG. lütt, OHG. luzzil, MHG. lützel; and perh. to AS. lytig deceitful, lot deceit, Goth. liuts deceitful, lutn to deceive; cf. also Icel. litill little, Sw. liten, Dan. liden, lille, Goth. leitils, which appear to have a different root vowel.
The regular comparative of this word is wanting, its place being supplied by less, or, rarely, lesser See Lesser For the superlative least is used, the regular form, littlest, occurring very rarely, except in some of the English provinces, and occasionally in colloquial language " Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear " Shak
  1. Small in size or extent; not big; diminutive; -- opposed to big or large; as, a little body; a little animal; a little piece of ground; a little hill; a little distance; a little child.
    He sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. Luke xix. 3.
  2. Short in duration; brief; as, a little sleep.
    Best him enough: after a little time, I'll beat him too. Shak.
  3. Small in quantity or amount; not much; as, a little food; a little air or water.
    Conceited of their little wisdoms, and doting upon their own fancies. Barrow.
  4. Small in dignity, power, or importance; not great; insignificant; contemptible.
    When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes? I Sam. xv. 17.
  5. Small in force or efficiency; not strong; weak; slight; inconsiderable; as, little attention or exertion;little effort; little care or diligence.
    By sad experiment I know How little weight my words with thee can find. Milton.
  6. Small in extent of views or sympathies; narrow; shallow; contracted; mean; illiberal; ungenerous.
    The long-necked geese of the world that are ever hissing dispraise, Because their natures are little. Tennyson.
    The men, and the women, and the little ones. Deut. ii. 34.
Lit"tle noun
  1. That which is little; a small quantity, amount, space, or the like.
    Much was in little writ. Dryden.
    There are many expressions, which carrying with them no clear ideas, are like to remove but little of my ignorance. Locke.
  2. A small degree or scale; miniature. " His picture in little." Shak.
    A little, to or in a small degree; to a limited extent; somewhat; for a short time. " Stay a little." Shak.
    The painter flattered her a little. Shak.
Lit"tle adverb
  1. In a small quantity or degree; not much; slightly; somewhat; -- often with a preceding it. " The poor sleep little." Otway.

Webster 1913

"Rowling never met an adverb she didn't like."

-Stephen King on J.K Rowling's excessive use of adverbs.

Fear not the Adverb Hell!

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