WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2020
lit•tle /ˈlɪtəl/USA pronunciation
adj., lit•tler or less /lɛs/USA pronunciation or less•er, lit•tlest or least/list/USA pronunciation adv., less, least, n. adj.
WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2020
- 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;
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.
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;
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;
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.
lit•tle•ness, n. [uncountable]
- Idiomslittle by little, by small degrees;
gradually:Little by little he was improving.
(lit′l),USA pronunciation adj., lit•tler or less or less•er, lit•tlest or least, adv., less, least, n. adj.
- small in size; not big;
tiny:a little desk in the corner of the room.
- short in duration;
brief:a little while.
- small in number:a little group of scientists.
- small in amount or degree;
not much:little hope.
- of a certain amount;
appreciable (usually prec. by a):We're having a little difficulty.
- being such on a small scale:little farmers.
- younger or youngest:He's my little brother.
- not strong, forceful, or loud;
weak:a little voice.
- small in consideration, importance, position, affluence, etc.:little discomforts; tax reductions to help the little fellow.
- mean, narrow, or illiberal:a little mind.
- endearingly small or considered as such:Bless your little heart!
- amusingly small or so considered:a funny little way of laughing.
- contemptibly small, petty, mean, etc., or so considered:filthy little political tricks.
- not at all (used before a verb):He little knows what awaits him.
- in only a small amount or degree;
slightly:a little known work of art; little better than a previous effort.
infrequently:We see each other very little.
(lit′l),USA pronunciation adj.
- a small amount, quantity, or degree:They did little to make him comfortable. If you want some ice cream, there's a little in the refrigerator.
- a short distance:It's down the road a little.
- a short time:Stay here for a little.
- Idiomsin little, on a small scale;
in miniature:a replica in little of Independence Hall.
- Idiomslittle by little, by small degrees;
gradually:The water level rose little by little.
- Idiomsmake little of:
- belittle:to make little of one's troubles.
- to understand or interpret only slightly:Scholars made little of the newly discovered text.
- Idiomsnot a little, to a great extent;
considerably:It tired me not a little to stand for three hours.
- Idiomsthink little of, to treat casually;
regard as trivial:They think little of driving 50 miles to see a movie.
- 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.
Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
little /ˈlɪtəl/ determiner
- (often preceded by a) a small quantity, extent, or duration of: the little hope there is left, very little milk
- (as pronoun): save a little for me
- not much: little damage was done
- make little of ⇒
See make of
- not a little ⇒ very
- a lot
- quite a little ⇒ a considerable amount
- think little of ⇒ to have a low opinion of
- of small or less than average size
- young: a little boy, our little ones
- endearingly familiar; dear: my husband's little ways
- contemptible, mean, or disagreeable: your filthy little mind
See also less
- (usually preceded by a) in a small amount; to a small extent or degree; not a lot: to laugh a little
- (used preceding a verb) not at all, or hardly: he little realized his fate
- not much or often: we go there very little now
- little by little ⇒ by small degrees
, leastEtymology: Old English lӯtel; related to lӯr few, Old High German luzzil
'little by little' also found in these entries: