lit•tle/ˈlɪtəl/USA pronunciationadj.,lit•tler or less/lɛs/USA pronunciation or less•er, lit•tlest or least/list/USA pronunciationadv.,less, least,n. adj.
small in size, amount, or scale; not big:[before a noun]a little desk; a little voice.
short in length, duration, or extent; brief:[before a noun]Give me a little time.
small in number:[before a noun]a little group of scientists.
This word is used before a noun and without the article a to mean "small in amount or degree; not much,'' and is used to emphasize the feeling that the amount is not as much as one would like:[before a noun]There is little hope of victory. I have very little money left.
This word, when preceded by the article a, is used to mean "of a certain amount; some; more than expected, appreciable,'' and is used to emphasize the feeling that the amount is enough or sufficient, though perhaps just barely so:[before a noun; a + ~ + noun]I have a little money left; maybe it's enough for the movies. We're having a little difficulty.
younger or youngest:[before a noun]her little brother.
minor; unimportant:life's little pleasures.
mean, narrow, or not willing to understand others:little minds.
This word is sometimes used before a noun to indicate feelings of affection or amusement:[before a noun]Bless your little heart!
not at all:[before a verb]He little knows what awaits him.
This word is used with or without the article a to mean "in only a small amount or degree; not much; slightly,'' and emphasizes the feeling that the action or the amount indicated is not very much and is perhaps less than would be best:a little known work of art; She's little better than she was before the treatment.
This word is used without the article a as a noncount noun to mean "a small amount, quantity, or degree,'' and to emphasize the feeling that the amount is less than might be expected or proper:[uncountable]They did little to make us comfortable.
This word, when preceded by the article a, is used to mean "a certain amount; some; an amount perhaps more than expected,'' and is used to emphasize the feeling that the amount is enough or sufficient, though perhaps just barely so:[countable; singular;a + ~]Save a little for me.
a short distance:[countable; singular;a + ~]It's down the road a little.
a short time:[countable; singular;a + ~]Stay here for a little.
Idiomslittle by little, by small degrees; gradually:Little by little he was improving.
Middle English, Old English lȳtel (lȳt few, small + -el diminutive suffix), cognate with Dutch luttel, Old High German luzzil, Old Norse lītill bef. 900
1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged –4. tiny, teeny, wee. Little,diminutive,minute,small refer to that which is not large or significant. Little (the opposite of big) is very general, covering size, extent, number, quantity, amount, duration, or degree:a little boy; a little time.Small (the opposite of large and of great) can many times be used interchangeably with little, but is especially applied to what is limited or below the average in size:small oranges.Diminutive denotes (usually physical) size that is much less than the average or ordinary; it may suggest delicacy:the baby's diminutive fingers; diminutive in size but autocratic in manner.Minute suggests that which is so tiny it is difficult to discern, or that which implies attentiveness to the smallest details:a minute quantity; a minute exam.