Meaning of LITTLE in English

LITTLE

I. DETERMINER, QUANTIFIER, AND ADVERB USES

/lɪt(ə)l/

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

1.

You use little to indicate that there is only a very small amount of something. You can use ‘so’, ‘too’, and ‘very’ in front of little .

I had little money and little free time...

I find that I need very little sleep these days...

There is little doubt that a diet high in fibre is more satisfying...

So far little progress has been made towards ending the fighting...

DET : DET n-uncount

Little is also a quantifier.

Little of the existing housing is of good enough quality...

≠ much

QUANT : QUANT of def-n

Little is also a pronoun.

In general, employers do little to help the single working mother...

Little is known about his childhood.

PRON

2.

Little means not very often or to only a small extent.

On their way back to Marseille they spoke very little...

ADV : ADV with v

3.

A little of something is a small amount of it, but not very much. You can also say a very little .

Mrs Caan needs a little help getting her groceries home...

A little food would do us all some good...

I shall be only a very little time.

DET : DET n-uncount

Little is also a pronoun.

They get paid for it. Not much. Just a little.

PRON

Little is also a quantifier.

Pour a little of the sauce over the chicken...

I’m sure she won’t mind sparing us a little of her time.

QUANT : QUANT of def-n-uncount / sing

4.

If you do something a little , you do it for a short time.

He walked a little by himself in the garden.

ADV : ADV after v

5.

A little or a little bit means to a small extent or degree.

He complained a little of a nagging pain between his shoulder blades...

He was a little bit afraid of his father’s reaction...

If you have to drive when you are tired, go a little more slowly than you would normally...

ADV : ADV after v , ADV adj / adv

6.

If something happens little by little , it happens very gradually.

In the beginning he had felt well, but little by little he was becoming weaker...

= gradually

PHRASE : PHR with cl

II. ADJECTIVE USES

/lɪt(ə)l/

( littler, littlest)

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Note: The comparative 'littler' and the superlative 'littlest' are sometimes used in spoken English for meanings 1, 3, and 4, but otherwise the comparative and superlative forms of the adjective 'little' are not used.

1.

Little things are small in size. Little is slightly more informal than small .

We sat around a little table, eating and drinking wine.

...the little group of art students.

= small

≠ big

ADJ : usu ADJ n

2.

You use little to indicate that someone or something is small, in a pleasant and attractive way.

She’s got the nicest little house not far from the library.

...a little old lady...

James usually drives a little hatchback.

ADJ : ADJ n

3.

A little child is young.

I have a little boy of 8...

When I was little I was very hyper-active.

ADJ

4.

Your little sister or brother is younger than you are.

Whenever Daniel’s little sister was asked to do something she always had a naughty reply.

≠ big

ADJ : ADJ n

5.

A little distance, period of time, or event is short in length.

Just go down the road a little way, turn left, and cross the bridge...

Why don’t we just wait a little while and see what happens...

I’ve been wanting to have a little talk with you.

≠ long

ADJ : ADJ n

6.

A little sound or gesture is quick.

I had a little laugh to myself...

She stood up quickly, giving a little cry of astonishment...

He turned with a little nod and I watched him walk away.

ADJ : ADJ n

7.

You use little to indicate that something is not serious or important.

...irritating little habits...

Harry found himself getting angry over little things that had never bothered him before.

ADJ : ADJ n

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Английский словарь Коллинз COBUILD для изучающих язык на продвинутом уровне.