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Webster 1913 Edition


Little

Lit′tle

(lĭt′t’l)
,
Adj.
[The regular comparative and superlative of this word, littler and littlest, are often used as comparatives of the sense small; but in the sense few, less, or, rarely, lesser is the proper comparative and least is the superlative. See
Lesser
. The regular form, littlest, occurs also in some of the English provinces, and occasionally in colloquial language. “ Where love is great, the
littlest
doubts are fear.”
Shak.
]
[OE.
litel
,
lutel
, AS.
lȳtel
,
lītel
,
lȳt
; akin to OS.
littil
, D.
luttel
, LG.
lütt
, OHG.
luzzil
, MHG.
lützel
; and perh. to AS.
lytig
deceitful,
lot
deceit, Goth.
liuts
deceitful,
lutōn
to deceive; cf. also Icel.
lītill
little, Sw.
liten
, Dan.
liden
,
lille
, Goth.
leitils
, which appear to have a different root vowel.]
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.
Shakespeare
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.
Little chief
.
(Zool.)
Little Englander
,
an Englishman opposed to territorial expansion of the British Empire. See
Antiimperialism
, above.
Hence:
Little Englandism
. –
Little finger
,
the fourth and smallest finger of the hand.
Little go
(Eng. Universities)
,
a public examination about the middle of the course, which is less strict and important than the final one; – called also
smalls
. Cf.
Great go
, under
Great
.
Thackeray.
Little hours
(R. C. Ch.)
,
the offices of prime, tierce, sext, and nones. Vespers and compline are sometimes included.
Little-neck clam
, or
Little neck
(Zool.)
,
the quahog, or round clam.
Little ones
,
young children.
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.
By little and little
, or
Little by little
,
by slow degrees; piecemeal; gradually.

Lit′tle

,
adv.
In a small quantity or degree; not much; slightly; somewhat; – often with a preceding it.
“ The poor sleep little.”
Otway.

Webster 1828 Edition


Little

LIT'TLE

,
Adj.
1.
Small in size or extent; not great or large; as a little body; a little animal; a little piece of ground; a little table; a little book; a little hill; a little distance; a little child.
2.
Short in duration; as a little time or season; a little sleep.
3.
Small in quantity or amount; as a little hay or grass; a little food; a little sum; a little light; a little air or water.
4.
Of small dignity, power or importance.
When thou wast little in thy own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes? 1Sam. 15.
5.
Of small force or effect; slight; inconsiderable; as little attention or exertions; little effort; little care or diligence, little weight.

LIT'TLE

, n.
1.
A small quantity or amount. He demanded much and obtained little. He had little of his father's liberality.
2.
A small space.
Much was in little writ -
3.
Any thing small, slight or of inconsiderable importance.
I view with anger and disdain.
How little gives thee joy and pain.
4.
Not much.
These they are fitted for, and little else.

LIT'TLE

, adv.
1.
In a small degree; slightly; as, he is little changed. It is a little discolored.
2.
Not much; in a small quantity or space of time. He sleeps little.
3.
In some degree; slightly; sometimes preceded by a. The liquor is a little sour or astringent.

Definition 2021


Little

Little

See also: little and a little

English

Proper noun

Little

  1. A surname.

little

little

See also: Little and a little

English

Adjective

little (comparative less or lesser or littler, superlative least or littlest)

  1. Small in size.
    This is a little table.
  2. Insignificant, trivial.
    • 2013 June 21, Chico Harlan, Japan pockets the subsidy ”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 2, page 30:
      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."
    It's of little importance.
    1. (offensive) Used to belittle a person.
      listen up you little ****
  3. Very young.
    Did he tell you any embarrassing stories about when she was little?
    That's the biggest little boy I've ever seen.
  4. (of a sibling) Younger.
    This is my little sister.
  5. 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 :
      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.
  6. Small in amount or number, having few members.
    little money;  little herd
  7. Short in duration; brief.
    a little sleep
  8. Small in extent of views or sympathies; narrow; shallow; contracted; mean; illiberal; ungenerous.
    • Tennyson
      The 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.

Antonyms

Derived terms

Translations

Adverb

little (comparative less or lesser, superlative least)

  1. Not much.
    This is a little known fact. She spoke little and listened less.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter I:
      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.
  2. Not at all.
    I was speaking ill of Fred; little did I know that he was right behind me, listening in.
    • 1879, Richard Jefferies, The Amateur Poacher, chapter1:
      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.
    • 2012 May 13, Alistair Magowan, Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport:
      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.


Antonyms

Translations

Determiner

little (comparative less, superlative least)

  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.

Antonyms

Translations

Related terms

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: time · only · like · #76: little · now · then · A