• Little


    • IPA: /ˈlɪtl̩/
    • US IPA: /ˈlɪtl̩/, ˈlɪɾl̩
    • Rhymes: -ɪtəl
    • Hyphenation: lit + tle


    From Middle English litel, from Old English lȳtel, from Proto-Germanic *lūtilaz ("tending to stoop, crouched, little"), from Proto-Indo-European *lewd- ("to bend, bent, small"), equivalent to lout + -le. Cognate with Dutch luttel, German lütt and lützel, West Frisian lyts, Low German lütt, Old High German luzzil, Middle High German lützel, Old English lūtan (""); and perhaps to Old English lytig ("deceitful, lot deceit"), Gothic 𐌻𐌹𐌿𐍄𐍃 (liuts, "deceitful"), 𐌻𐌿𐍄𐌾𐌰𐌽 (lutjan, "to deceive"); compare also Icelandic lítill ("little"), Swedish liten, Danish liden, lille, Gothic 𐌻𐌴𐌹𐍄𐌹𐌻𐍃 (leitils), which appear to have a different root vowel. More at lout.


    1. Small in size.
      This is a little table.
    2. Insignificant, trivial.
      • 2013-06-21, Chico Harlan, Japan pockets the subsidy …, Across Japan, technology companies and private investors are racing to install devices that until recently they had little interest in: solar panels. Massive solar parks are popping up as part of a rapid build-up that one developer likened to an "explosion."
    3. It's of little importance.
    4. Very young.
      Did he tell you any embarrassing stories about when she was little?
      That's the biggest little boy I've ever seen.
    5. (of a sibling) Younger.
      This is my little sister.
    6. Used with the name of place, especially of a country, to denote a neighborhood whose residents or storekeepers are from that place.
      • 1871 October 18, The One-eyed Philosopher pseudonym, "Street Corners", in Judy: or the London serio-comic journal, volume 9, page 255 http://books.google.com/books?id=_B4oAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA255:If you want to find Little France, take any turning on the north side of Leicester square, and wander in a zigzag fashion Oxford Streetwards. The Little is rather smokier and more squalid than the Great France upon the other side of the Manche.
      • 2004, Barry Miles, Zappa: A Biography, 2005 edition, ISBN 080214215X, page 5:In the forties, hurdy-gurdy men could still be heard in all those East Coast cities with strong Italian neighbourhoods: New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston. A visit to Baltimore's Little Italy at that time was like a trip to Italy itself.
    7. Small in amount or number, having few members.
      little money;  little herd
    8. Short in duration; brief.a little sleep
    9. Small in extent of views or sympathies; narrow; shallow; contracted; mean; illiberal; ungenerous.
      • TennysonThe long-necked geese of the world that are ever hissing dispraise,
        Because their natures are little.

    Usage notes

    Some authorities regard both littler and littlest as non-standard. The OED says of the word little: "the adjective has no recognized mode of comparison. The difficulty is commonly evaded by resort to a synonym (as smaller, smallest); some writers have ventured to employ the unrecognized forms littler, littlest, which are otherwise confined to dialect or imitations of childish or illiterate speech." The forms lesser and least are encountered in animal names such as lesser flamingo and least weasel.



    1. Not much.
      This is a little known fact.
      She spoke little and listened less.
      • 1879, Richard Jefferies, The Amateur Poacher Chapter 1, But then I had the massive flintlock by me for protection. ¶...The linen-press and a chest on the top of it formed, however, a very good gun-carriage; and, thus mounted, aim could be taken out of the window , and a 'bead' could be drawn upon Molly, the dairymaid, kissing the fogger behind the hedge, little dreaming that the deadly tube was levelled at them.
      • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody Chapter 1, Little disappointed, then, she turned attention to "Chat of the Social World," gossip which exercised potent fascination upon the girl's intelligence. She devoured with more avidity than she had her food those pretentiously phrased chronicles of the snobocracy distilling therefrom an acid envy that robbed her napoleon of all its savour.
      • 2012, May 13, Alistair Magowan, Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd, But as United saw the game out, little did they know that, having looked likely to win their 13th Premier League title, it was City who turned the table to snatch glory from their arch-rivals' grasp.



    1. Not much, only a little: only a small amount (of).There is little water left.We had very little to do.

    Usage notes

    Little is used with uncountable nouns, few with plural countable nouns.


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