Meaning of LITTLE in English

LITTLE

INDEX:

a small amount

1. a small amount of a substance

2. a very small amount of a substance

3. a small amount of food or drink

4. a small amount of money

5. too little money

6. a small amount of something such as a feeling etc

7. a very small amount of something such as a feeling, quality etc

8. when something or someone moves or changes a little

a little/not very

9. a little tired/sad/older/bigger etc

RELATED WORDS

opposite

↑ LOT

a little time : ↑ SHORT

small in size : ↑ SMALL

see also

↑ FEW/NOT MANY

↑ AMOUNT

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1. a small amount of a substance

▷ a little /ə ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier]

▪ This glue’s really strong - you only need to use a little.

a little water/money/time etc

▪ A little make-up would make her look so much more attractive.

▪ The garden could do with a little rain.

▪ Try putting a little oil on the hinge and see if it stops squeaking.

a little more/less

▪ If we all used a little less paper, we’d probably save a forest or two.

a little of

a small amount of a specific substance

▪ A little of the grease got on my skirt.

▷ a little bit also a bit especially British /ə ˌlɪtl ˈbɪt, ə ˈbɪt/ [quantifier] informal

a small amount of something :

▪ You shouldn’t have given me so much toothpaste - I only needed a little bit.

a little bit of

▪ A bit of detergent should get that stain out of your collar.

▪ Save a little bit of the paint to do the trim.

▷ not much /nɒt ˈmʌtʃ/ [quantifier]

only a small amount of something - use this especially when you expect or need more :

▪ ‘How much paper is there in the printer?’ ‘Not much.’

not much water/money/time etc

▪ There’s not much light in this room, is there?

▪ It was very cold, but there wasn’t much snow on the ground.

not very much

▪ That’s not very much paint if you’re planning to paint the whole bedroom.

not much of

a small part of a specific substance

▪ You can use my shampoo but there’s not much of it left.

▷ a small amount /ə ˌsmɔːl əˈmaʊnt/ [quantifier]

use this especially when it is a measured amount :

▪ Squeeze a small amount onto the palm of your hand and spread the gel evenly through your hair.

a small amount of

▪ Stir-fry the vegetables in a small amount of oil.

▪ Even a small amount of the drug can be detected in the test.

▪ Small amounts of radiation were found on their clothing.

in small amounts

▪ Fluorine is present in small amounts on Mars.

▷ trickle /ˈtrɪk ə l/ [quantifier]

a small amount of a liquid, flowing out of something :

▪ Because of the drought, the river has become little more than a trickle.

trickle of

▪ There was a trickle of blood coming from the corner of his mouth.

▷ dab /dæb/ [quantifier]

a small amount of a liquid, cream, or powder which has been put onto a surface with something such as a brush or with the fingers :

▪ Can I use some of your perfume? I just want to put a dab on my wrist.

dab of

▪ She put a dab of ointment on the cut.

▪ The car just needs a couple of dabs of paint here and there, and it’ll be fine.

▷ low /ləʊ/ [adjective]

if something is low in fat, sugar, salt etc, it contains very little fat, sugar etc :

low in

▪ The casserole is low in calories and fat.

▪ These new industrial cleaners are much lower in ammonia and other dangerous chemicals than before.

low-fat/-sugar/-cholesterol etc

▪ He’s been on a low-cholesterol diet since his heart attack.

low fat/sugar/cholesterol etc content

▪ Non-dairy toppings tend to have lower fat content than whipping cream.

2. a very small amount of a substance

▷ very little /ˌveri ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier]

a very small amount, usually so that there is not enough to be useful, to be important etc :

▪ There was no ink in the bottle and very little left in the pen.

very little water/money/time etc

▪ Fish contains very little fat.

▪ The area has a lot of deer, but very little water and not much open space.

▷ hardly/barely any /scarcely any especially British /ˌhɑːʳdli, ˌbeəʳli ˈeni, ˌskeəʳsli ˈeni/ [quantifier]

almost none at all :

▪ Don’t forget to order some more paper for the copy machine - there’s barely any left.

hardly any water/money/time etc

▪ The ferns manage to grow with scarcely any sunlight.

▪ He was fifty years old and his hair still had hardly any gray in it.

▷ almost no /ˌɔːlməʊst ˈnəʊ/ [quantifier]

such a small amount that you can hardly see it, use it etc :

almost no water/money/time

▪ Potatoes have almost no fat, but they’re very filling.

▪ He had a longish, plain face with a straight nose and almost no hair.

almost none

▪ ‘How much glue is left?’ ‘Almost none.’

almost none of something

▪ By the time the dentist had finished almost none of the existing tooth remained.

▷ no ... to speak of /nəʊ ... tə ˈspiːk ɒv/ [adverb]

if there is no rain, food, oil, etc to speak of, there is almost none and not enough to have any effect :

▪ There had been no rain to speak of for ten weeks and the garden was dying.

none to speak of

▪ There’s no fuel oil left - none to speak of, anyway.

▷ trace /treɪs/ [quantifier]

an amount so small that it is very difficult to see :

▪ She had very little grey hair, with just a trace near the temples.

trace of

▪ Police found traces of blood on the killer’s shoes.

▪ Tests have revealed traces of poison in his food.

3. a small amount of food or drink

▷ a little /ə ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier]

▪ ‘Would you like some more coffee?’ ‘Just a little.’

a little water/meat/cake etc

▪ The next day Mark felt well enough to eat a little solid food.

▪ Would you like a little ice cream with your pie?

a little of

a small amount of a specific food, drink etc

▪ I think I’ll try a little of the casserole.

a little more/less

▪ If I were you I’d use a little less salt next time.

▷ a little bit also a bit especially British /ə ˌlɪtl ˈbɪt, ə ˈbɪt/ [quantifier] informal

a small amount :

▪ ‘Can I serve you some soup?’ ‘Alright, but just a little bit.’

a little bit of

▪ He only ate a little bit of dinner and then went straight to bed.

▪ Would you like a bit of bacon with your eggs?

▪ We still have a little bit of cheese left, if you want it.

a (little) bit more/less

▪ Can I have a bit more red wine, please?

▷ not much /nɒt ˈmʌtʃ/ [quantifier]

only a little - use this especially when you expect or need more :

▪ ‘How much cake do you want?’ ‘Not much, I’m on a diet.’

not much water/meat/cake etc

▪ There’s not much wine left, but I think we can each have a glass.

not much to eat/drink

▪ We need to do some shopping - there isn’t much to eat at home.

not very much

▪ You haven’t eaten very much. Do you feel okay?

▷ very little /ˌveri ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier]

a very small amount, usually so small that there is not enough to have an effect, be useful etc :

▪ We drink only occasionally, and even then very little.

very little water/meat/cake etc

▪ The soup is made with lots of vegetables but very little chicken.

very little of

▪ He ate very little of the food we had given him.

▷ hardly/barely any also scarcely any especially British /ˌhɑːʳdli, ˌbeəʳli ˈeni, ˌskeəʳsli ˈeni/ [quantifier]

almost none at all :

▪ I thought you liked my lasagne, but you’ve eaten hardly any.

hardly any water/meat/cake etc

▪ There’s barely any sugar in these cookies at all.

▪ Since his heart attack he’s eaten scarcely any red meat.

▷ drop /drɒpǁdrɑːp/ [quantifier] informal

a small amount of something that you drink :

▪ ‘Do you take cream in your coffee?’ ‘Yes, just a drop, please.’

drop of

▪ Would you like a drop of soda in your whisky?

▪ He hasn’t had a drop of alcohol in 20 years.

▷ pinch /pɪntʃ/ [quantifier]

a small amount of a powder such as salt, flour etc which you can hold between your thumb and first finger :

pinch of

▪ Add a pinch of salt and half a cup of breadcrumbs.

▪ The stew normally tastes better with a pinch or two of dried herbs.

▷ dash /dæʃ/ [quantifier]

a very small amount of a liquid which is added to a drink or to food, usually in order to give it a stronger taste :

dash of

▪ It’s just vodka with orange juice and a dash of lime juice.

▪ The secret of this sauce is a couple of dashes of brandy added just at the end.

4. a small amount of money

▷ a little /ə ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier]

▪ Most people will give a little to charity if they are asked.

a little money/cash

▪ I have a little cash with me, but not enough to pay for both of us.

a little extra

▪ He earns a little extra by working on weekends.

a little over/under

a little more or less than an amount of money

▪ The car costs a little over $20,000.

a little more/less

▪ A private room costs a little more, but it’s worth it.

▷ not much /nɒt ˈmʌtʃ/ [quantifier]

there is only a small amount of money, especially when you expect or need more :

▪ After paying rent he doesn’t have much left to buy food and pay bills.

not much money/cash

▪ Pete didn’t get much money when he sold his car.

not very much

▪ I don’t think he earns very much working at the bank.

▷ very little /ˌveri ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier]

a very small amount of money, so that there is not enough to have an effect :

▪ He spends very little on food.

▪ Considering they work so hard they’re paid very little.

very little money/cash

▪ When Maria lost her job she had very little money in savings.

▷ next to nothing /ˌnekst tə ˈnʌθɪŋ/ [adverb]

if the amount that something costs is next to nothing, it is extremely cheap :

▪ It costs next to nothing to go to an afternoon movie.

▪ The company’s profits climbed from next to nothing to $6 million in just two years.

▷ nominal /ˈnɒmɪn ə l, ˈnɒmən ə lǁˈnɑː-/ [adjective]

a nominal sum, charge, or payment is very small, because what is important is that something is paid, even if it is much less than would usually be paid :

▪ We are allowed to use the tennis courts for a nominal fee.

a nominal £1/$5 etc

▪ Tickets for the concert are a nominal $3 for students.

▷ negligible /ˈneglɪdʒɪb ə l, ˈneglɪdʒəb ə l/ [adjective]

an amount of money that is negligible is so small that it has no effect or is so small that it is not worth worrying about :

▪ The cost of maintaining the machine is negligible.

▪ Expenses for maintaining the investment fund are negligible - just half a percentage point of profit.

▷ a drop in the ocean British /a drop in the bucket American /ə ˌdrɒp ɪn ði ˈəʊʃ ə n, ə ˌdrɒp ɪn ðə ˈbʌkə̇tǁ-ˌdrɑːp-/ [noun phrase] informal

an amount is a drop in the ocean or a drop in the bucket when it seems very small compared with what is really needed :

▪ The United States pledge of $100 million to the rainforest fund is a drop in the ocean.

▪ Third World debt is so massive that recent pledges to reduce it are just a drop in the bucket.

5. too little money

▷ paltry /ˈpɔːltri/ [adjective only before noun]

paltry sum/amount/pay/value etc

such a small amount, sum etc that it is insulting to the people it is paid to :

▪ Club owners in Kansas City paid paltry wages to jazz musicians but gave them steady work.

▪ Last year workers were offered a paltry raise of only one percent.

a paltry £1/$5 etc

▪ Many of the workers in the factory received a paltry $2 a day.

▷ derisory /dɪˈraɪsəri/ [adjective] formal, especially written

a derisory amount of money that you are offered or paid is so small that it is not worth considering seriously :

▪ Government increases in health expenditure are derisory.

a derisory £10/$100/10% etc

▪ The company’s profits increased 35%, but they’ve only offered a derisory 2.5% pay increase.

▷ pittance /ˈpɪt ə ns/ [singular noun]

an extremely small amount of money, especially when you think the people who are being paid it are being treated unfairly :

▪ They expect their staff to work hard, but the wages they pay are a pittance.

a mere/absolute pittance

▪ In the poorest parts of the country, children work 12-hour days for a mere pittance.

▷ peanuts /ˈpiːnʌts/ [plural noun] informal

a surprisingly small amount of money - use this when you are comparing two prices or amounts :

▪ The workers get paid peanuts.

▪ He’s got so much money, $500 is just peanuts to him.

6. a small amount of something such as a feeling etc

▷ a little /ə ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier]

▪ ‘Do you speak French?’ ‘Just a little.’

a little trouble/patience/help etc

▪ We had a little difficulty finding the place but we got there in the end.

▪ You might need a little help getting started, but after that you should be fine.

a little of

▪ I can understand a little of the frustration he must be feeling.

a little more/less

▪ With a little more creativity they could have made the house look really nice.

▷ a little bit also a bit especially British /ə ˌlɪtl ˈbɪt, ə ˈbɪt/ [quantifier] informal

a little :

▪ By now she was resisting him only a little bit.

a little bit of

▪ We had a little bit of trouble reading his handwriting.

▪ He brings a bit of experience and a lot of enthusiasm to the job.

a (little) bit more/less

▪ I think a bit more discipline is needed with these children.

▷ not much /nɒt ˈmʌtʃ/ [quantifier]

only a little :

▪ Not much is known about her childhood.

not much trouble/patience/help etc

▪ He doesn’t have much experience of running a business.

▪ It was clear that not much thought had been put into the plan.

not very much

▪ We didn’t have very much understanding of the problem then.

▷ a small amount of something /ə ˌsmɔːl əˈmaʊnt əv something/ [noun phrase]

a little of something :

▪ There is a small amount of truth to what he says.

▪ Big improvements can be made with only a small amount of training and effort.

▷ an element of something /ən ˈelə̇mənt əv something/ [noun phrase]

if there is an element of some quality such as truth, danger, or violence in something, there is a small amount of it, but enough to be noticed :

▪ There is always an element of risk in mountain climbing.

▪ She tried to maintain an element of mystery in her relationships.

▪ Despite the agreement between the two countries, an element of uncertainty about the future remains.

▷ taste /teɪst/ [singular noun]

a taste of power/happiness/fame etc

a short experience that shows you what it is like to have power, fame, happiness etc :

▪ Alvin had had a brief taste of freedom and didn’t want to live with his parents again.

▪ She decided to become an actress after getting her first taste of fame in a local theatre production.

7. a very small amount of something such as a feeling, quality etc

▷ very little /ˌveri ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier]

a very small amount, so that there is not enough to have an effect, be useful, important etc :

▪ ‘How much do you know about computers?’ ‘Very little, I’m afraid.’

very little trouble/patience/help etc

▪ I had very little energy left.

▪ Changing the law will make very little difference.

▪ It makes very little sense for companies to maintain large inventories these days.

▷ almost no /ˌɔːlməʊst ˈnəʊ/ [quantifier]

such a small amount that you can hardly notice it :

almost no trouble/patience/help etc

▪ Scientists have paid almost no attention to the new theory.

▪ She supports the bill although she admits it has almost no chance of being passed.

▪ The birth control campaign was begun 10 years ago but has had almost no impact in the rural areas.

almost none

▪ ‘What progress have you made on your research project?’ ‘Almost none.’

▷ hardly/barely any also scarcely any especially British /ˌhɑːʳdli, ˌbeəʳli ˈeni, ˌskeəʳsli ˈeni/ [quantifier]

almost none at all :

▪ She said she felt a lot of regret about leaving, but I felt hardly any at all.

hardly any trouble/patience/help etc

▪ They closed down the whole department with barely any notice to the staff.

▪ Mark is so lazy, he makes scarcely any effort to improve his work.

▷ a touch/hint/trace of something /ə ˈtʌtʃ, ˈhɪnt, ˈtreɪs əv something/ [quantifier]

a very small amount of something, that you almost do not notice :

▪ ‘Are you ready yet?’ asked Hazel, with a touch of irritation in her voice.

▪ For the first time a hint of tension had crept into their relationship.

▪ After speaking to her for awhile, he began to detect a trace of a Southern accent.

▷ little /ˈlɪtl/ [quantifier] formal

a small amount, especially when you expect more :

little trouble/patience/help etc

▪ Little progress was made during the negotiations.

▪ The report offers little hope that the economy will improve any time soon.

▪ There seems to be little chance of him coming home for Christmas.

▷ minimal /ˈmɪnɪm ə l, ˈmɪnəm ə l/ [adjective]

a minimal amount of something is the smallest that is possible, so that it is not worth thinking or worrying about :

▪ The new operating technique involves minimal risk to patients.

▪ The impact of the sale on current employees should be minimal.

▪ The crew had very little experience and were given minimal safety training.

▷ negligible /ˈneglɪdʒɪb ə l, ˈneglɪdʒəb ə l/ [adjective]

a negligible amount of something is so small that it has almost no effect at all :

▪ The damage done to his property was negligible.

▪ Economists say raising the minimum wage would have a negligible effect on employment rates.

▪ The chances of a healthy adult contracting the disease are negligible.

▷ next to nothing /ˌnekst tə ˈnʌθɪŋ/ [adverb]

if you know, learn, say, hear etc next to nothing about something, then you know, learn etc very little about it :

▪ I learned next to nothing at school - the teachers were awful.

▪ My parents know next to nothing about the men I date.

8. when something or someone moves or changes a little

▷ a little /ə ˈlɪtl/ [adverb]

▪ His work has improved a little since he began the special classes.

▪ Gas prices have fallen a little, but they are still much higher than last year.

▪ I could see that Mrs Ewing’s hand was trembling a little.

▷ a little bit also a bit British /ə ˌlɪtl ˈbɪt, ə ˈbɪt/ [adverb] informal

a little :

▪ Do you mind if I open the window a little bit.

▪ The centre of the town had changed a bit, but everything else was just as I remember it.

▪ Isn’t that house leaning a little bit to the right?

▷ slightly /ˈslaɪtli/ [adverb]

a little, but not enough to be important or easy to notice :

▪ The temperature had risen slightly, but it was still very cold.

▪ He stood for a moment, his body swaying slightly.

▷ not much /nɒt ˈmʌtʃ/ [adverb]

only a little and not as much as you might have expected :

▪ Things haven’t changed much over the past few years.

▪ I added more memory to my computer, but its performance didn’t improve much.

9. a little tired/sad/older/bigger etc

▷ a little /ə ˈlɪtl/ [adverb]

▪ I’m feeling a little tired, I think I’ll go upstairs and have a rest.

▪ When you’re a little older, you’ll understand why I’m doing this.

▪ ‘Do you feel sad that you’re leaving?’ ‘Just a little.’

▷ a little bit also a (tiny) bit British /ə ˌlɪtl ˈbɪt, ə (ˌtaɪni) ˈbɪt/ [adverb] informal

a little :

▪ I think David was a bit disappointed I forgot his birthday.

▪ I’m a little bit cold. Do you mind if I turn up the heat?

▪ Aren’t you a bit young to be going to nightclubs?

▪ I tried on the dress but it was just a tiny bit small.

▷ slightly /ˈslaɪtli/ [adverb]

a little, but not enough to be important or to notice :

▪ Florida has a slightly larger population than Illinois.

▪ Sean’s car is a slightly different colour.

▪ Lynn’s daughter is only slightly older than mine.

▷ not much /nɒt ˈmʌtʃ/ [adverb]

only a little and not as much as you might have expected :

▪ We should be there soon. It’s not much further.

▪ His son’s not much younger than I am.

not much good

▪ I’m not much good at explaining things.

▷ not very /nɒt ˈveri/ [adverb]

only a little or not at all :

▪ The house isn’t very old. It was built in the 1990s.

▪ I still go running, but not very often.

▪ ‘Was the bike expensive?’ ‘Not very.’

▪ The President was not very happy that the information had been leaked to the press.

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