- The definition of little is small in size, quantity or importance.
An example of little used as an adjective is the phrase a "little cat" which means a cat below the normal size.
- Little is defined as only slightly or not much.
An example of little used as an adverb is the phrase "working little" which means not getting a decent amount of work.
A little girl with a little cat.
adjectivelittler or less or lesser, littlest or least
- small in size; not big, large, or great
- small in amount, number, or degree; not much
- short in duration or distance; brief; not long
- small in importance or power: the rights of the little man
- small in force, intensity, etc.; weak
- trivial; trifling
- lacking in breadth of vision; narrow-minded; illiberal: a little mind
- young: said of children or animals
- younger: her little brother
Origin of littleMiddle English littel ; from Old English lytel (akin to German dialect, dialectal lützel) ; from base of lyt, small (; from Indo-European base an unverified form leud-, to stoop from source Welsh lludded, fatigue), influenced, influence by Old Norse litill, small (akin to Gothic leitils) ; from Indo-European base an unverified form lei-, to decline, be lean from source less
- in a small degree; to a slight extent; only slightly; not much
- not in the least: he little suspects the plot
- small amount, degree, etc.: often used with a and having adverbial force: a little crazy
- not much: little will be done about it
- a short time or distance
little by little
make little of
not a little
adjectivelit·tler or less also less·er , lit·tlest or least
- a. Small in size: a little dining room.b. Small in quantity or extent: a little money; a little work on the side. See Synonyms at small.
- Short in extent or duration; brief: There is little time left.
- Unimportant; trivial: a little matter.
- Narrow; petty: mean little comments; a little mind consumed with trivia.
- Having scant power or influence; of minor status: just a little clerk in the records office.
- a. Being at an early stage of growth; young: a little child.b. Younger or youngest. Used especially of a sibling: My little brother is leaving for college next week.
adverbless less or lesser, least least
- Not much; scarcely: works long hours, sleeping little.
- Not in the least; not at all: They little expected such a generous gift.
- A small quantity or amount: Give me a little.
- Something much less than all: I know little of their history.
- A short distance or time: a little down the road; waited a little.
Origin of littleMiddle English, from Old English l&ymacron;tel.
(comparative less or lesser or littler, superlative least or littlest)
- Small in size.
- This is a little table.
- Insignificant, trivial.
- It's of little importance.
- Very young.
- Did he tell you any embarrassing stories about when she was little?
- That's the biggest little boy I've ever seen.
- (of a sibling) Younger.
- This is my little sister.
- Used with the name of place, especially of a country, to denote a neighborhood whose residents or storekeepers are from that place.
- Small in amount or number, having few members.
- little money; little herd
- Short in duration; brief.
- a little sleep
- Small in extent of views or sympathies; narrow; shallow; contracted; mean; illiberal; ungenerous.
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.
(comparative less or lesser, superlative least)
- Not much.
- This is a little known fact.
- She spoke little and listened less.
(comparative less, superlative least)
- Not much, only a little: only a small amount (of).
- There is little water left.
- We had very little to do.
- Little is used with uncountable nouns, few with plural countable nouns.
- (not much): much
- a little
- li'l, li'l', lil
- little by little
- little old
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 (liuts, “deceitful”), (lutjan, “to deceive”); compare also Icelandic lítill (“little”), Swedish liten, Danish liden, lille, Gothic (leitils), which appear to have a different root vowel. More at lout.