Meaning of SHORT in English



short/not long

1. short in length or distance

2. when something you say or write is short

3. to make something shorter

4. when a book or piece of writing has been made shorter

5. to say or write something using as few words as possible

6. when a name or word is a shorter way of saying something

short person

7. not tall

8. very short

short time

9. a short time

10. continuing for only a short time




to make a short statement that describes the main points of a speech, plan etc : ↑ SUMMARIZE

see also



1. short in length or distance

▷ short /ʃɔːʳt/ [adjective]

if something is short, there is only a small length or distance from one end of it to the other :

▪ These curtains are much too short.

▪ She has short curly hair and wears glasses.

▪ a short-sleeved T-shirt

▪ You look different - your hair’s shorter.

▪ The hotel is just a short distance from the station.

▪ Chris went for a short walk to clear his head.

short cut

a shorter, and therefore quicker, way of getting to a place

▪ Sandy took a short cut home.

▪ Do you know any short cuts to the hospital?

▷ stubby/stumpy /ˈstʌbi, ˈstʌmpi/ [adjective]

body parts that are stubby or stumpy are short and thick :

▪ Pheasants have short stubby wings which enable them to fly very fast and low.

▪ a fat little boy with stumpy legs

2. when something you say or write is short

▷ short /ʃɔːʳt/ [adjective]

a short piece of writing or speech does not have many pages or words :

▪ Graham made a short speech of thanks after the ceremony.

▪ a book of short stories

▪ The chapters are really short, so I read a couple every night.

▪ We had a short pep talk from the coach before the game.

▪ Please write a short paragraph explaining your reasons for applying to this college.

▷ brief /briːf/ [adjective]

a brief note, description, remark etc uses very few words and gives very few details :

▪ The book begins with a brief outline of the history of modern China.

▪ We just have to write a very brief piece on what we did in the vacation.

▪ There was a brief note with the flowers.

▷ concise /kənˈsaɪs/ [adjective]

short and clear, and with no unnecessary words :

▪ Saussure expressed his arguments in a concise and logical way.

▪ Sergeant Hanks gave us concise, sensible instructions.

clear and concise

▪ Make sure that your answers are as clear and concise as possible.

▷ succinct /səkˈsɪŋkt/ [adjective] formal

expressing something well but with very few words :

▪ The new labelling is more succinct and advises consumers simply that oat bran may help prevent heart disease.

succinctly [adverb]

▪ Spell out your work objectives clearly and succinctly.

say/put something succinctly

say something in a succinct way

▪ As Susan put it so succinctly ‘No overtime pay, no work!’

3. to make something shorter

▷ shorten /ˈʃɔːʳtn/ [transitive verb]

to make something shorter, especially by removing part of it :

▪ I heard she had an operation to shorten her nose.

▪ You can improve your writing just by shortening some of these long sentences.

▪ It costs £12 to get trousers shortened.

▪ This essay’s still too long, I’ll have to shorten it by a couple of thousand words.

shorten something to something

▪ His name’s Lawrence, but it’s usually shortened to Larry.

▷ make something shorter /ˌmeɪk something ˈʃɔːʳtəʳ/ [verb phrase]

to make something shorter, especially by removing part of it :

▪ You could make your speech shorter by taking out all the quotations.

make something one metre/two centimetres etc shorter

▪ Engineers have removed a section of the pipeline, making it about a hundred metres shorter.

▷ cut /kʌt/ [transitive verb]

to make a film or piece of writing shorter by removing parts from it :

▪ Even after it had been cut, the film was still over three hours long.

▪ I had to cut huge chunks out to get this essay to the right length.

cut something from something

▪ It’s so difficult to cut even a couple of scenes from a play without losing some of the story.

▷ cut down /ˌkʌt ˈdaʊn/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to make a piece of writing shorter by removing parts of it completely :

cut something down

▪ The introduction’s too long. Can you try and cut it down?

▪ Did you have to cut your dissertation down?

cut down something

▪ They want me to cut down my article so that it’ll all fit onto one page.

▷ condense /kənˈdens/ [transitive verb]

to shorten something spoken or written, by not giving as much detail, or by using fewer words to give the same information :

▪ I’d like to condense that statement still further.

condense something into something

▪ Hawkins condensed all his writings into one volume for publication.

▪ How could he condense all he had lived through into a sixty-minute speech?

4. when a book or piece of writing has been made shorter

▷ shortened /ˈʃɔːʳtnd/ [adjective]

shortened version (of something)

▪ This chapter is a shortened version of a paper that was written in 1977.

▪ a shortened version of the Jewish creed

in (a) shortened form

▪ The book contains many of the most popular stories from the Bible in shortened form.

▷ abridged /əˈbrɪdʒd/ [adjective]

abridged version/edition/account (of something)

a shortened version of a piece of writing or speech, which keeps its basic structure and meaning :

▪ The following article is an abridged version of a speech given by Porter in May 2000.

▪ The book is an abridged account of his experiences in India before Independence.

5. to say or write something using as few words as possible

▷ be brief /biː ˈbriːf/ [verb phrase]

to say something using as few words as possible, because you do not have much time :

▪ Lieutenant, I’ll be brief and I’ll be candid -- when do you plan to leave?

▪ I’m sure you’re all very busy, so I’ll be brief.

▪ I’ll be as brief as possible so as not to waste your time.

▷ keep it short /ˌkiːp ɪt ˈʃɔːʳt/ [verb phrase] informal

to say or write something using as few words as possible :

▪ I’ll keep it short as I don’t have much time.

▪ Tell me, but keep it short, I’m in the middle of something.

keep it short and sweet/short and simple

▪ Mr Chairman, I think I’ve got five minutes, so I’ll keep it fairly short and sweet.

6. when a name or word is a shorter way of saying something

▷ be short for /biː ˈʃɔːʳt fɔːʳ/ [verb phrase]

▪ VHF is short for Very High Frequency.

▪ ‘Is ‘Shelley’ short for anything?’ ‘Yes, my real name’s Michelle.’

▪ What’s ‘ISP’ short for?

▷ stand for /ˈstænd fɔːʳ/ [transitive phrasal verb]

if a letter stands for a name or word, it is the first letter of that name or word :

▪ ‘What does ‘NAC’ stand for?’ ‘National Aerobics Championships’.

▪ On a US ship, you see ‘USS’, standing for ‘United States Ship’.

▪ The ‘F’ in ‘John F Kennedy’ stood for ‘Fitzgerald’.

▷ for short /fəʳ ˈʃɔːʳt/ [adverb]

if you call someone or something a particular name for short, you call them by a name that is a shorter way of saying their real name :

▪ Hi, my name’s Moses -- Mo for short.

▪ He’s actually called Jeremy, but everyone who knows him calls him Jem for short.

▷ abbreviate /əˈbriːvieɪt/ [transitive verb usually in passive]

to make a long name or word shorter so that it is easier to say or write :

▪ Is it correct to abbreviate ‘Avenue’, ‘Street’ and so on when writing an address on an envelope?

be abbreviated to something

▪ The word ‘kilogram' is usually abbreviated to ’kg'.

▷ abbreviation /əˌbriːviˈeɪʃ ə n/ [countable noun]

a shorter way of saying a word or the name of something such as an organization or someone’s job, especially by using the first letters of words instead of the whole words :

▪ Disk Operating Systems are usually known by the abbreviation DOS.

▪ a Dictionary of Acronyms and Abbreviations

▪ I never knew the abbreviation ‘GI’ stood for ‘Government Issue’.

abbreviation for

▪ BBC is an abbreviation for British Broadcasting Corporation.

7. not tall

▷ short /ʃɔːʳt/ [adjective]

not as tall as most people :

▪ ‘What does she look like?’ ‘She’s short and fat, with brown hair.’

▪ a short, stocky man with powerful shoulders

▪ Mr Haddad was several inches shorter than his wife.

▷ not very tall /nɒt veri ˈtɔːl/ [adjective phrase]

fairly short :

▪ She’s not very tall - about 1.4 metres, I’d say.

▪ Well, I’m not very tall and my legs are short, so I always had trouble in the hurdle race.

▷ small /smɔːl/ [adjective]

not as big or as tall as most people :

▪ a small man in a dark suit

▪ How come I always seem to go out with small men?

▪ My sister’s quite a bit smaller and slimmer than me.

small for his/her age

smaller than other children of the same age

▪ Bobby’s small for his age, but he’s perfectly healthy.

▷ little /ˈlɪtl/ [adjective only before noun]

short and small, used especially to describe children or old people :

▪ We saw a little old lady with a walking-stick.

▪ Who’s this little boy in the blue sweater?

▪ I haven’t seen one of those since I was a little girl.

▷ petite /pəˈtiːt/ [adjective]

a woman who is petite is attractively short and thin :

▪ His wife was a petite dark-haired woman in her early thirties.

▷ stocky /ˈstɒkiǁˈstɑː-/ [adjective]

a man who is stocky is fairly short and looks heavy and often strong :

▪ Brandon’s quite stocky really, isn’t he?

▪ He’s a big stocky bloke and he plays rugby.

▷ squat /skwɒtǁskwɑːt/ [adjective]

short and fat, especially in an unattractive way :

▪ The cook was short and squat, with thick eyebrows and a slight moustache.

▪ a shabby, squat, balding man in an old raincoat

8. very short

▷ tiny /ˈtaɪni/ [adjective]

▪ A tiny old lady answered the door.

▪ She’s tiny, but she belts out these old blues songs like you wouldn’t believe.

▪ They look so funny together. She’s really tiny and her husband’s about six foot five.

tiny little


▪ She was holding a tiny little baby in her arms.

▷ diminutive /dɪˈmɪnjɑtɪv, dəˈmɪnjɑtɪv/ [adjective] written

unusually small and thin :

▪ Peter was a shy, diminutive man who seldom said anything to anyone.

▪ A diminutive figure appeared in the doorway.

9. a short time

▷ a short time /ə ˌʃɔːʳt ˈtaɪm/ [singular noun]

▪ Unfortunately, we could only spend a short time together.

▪ The talk should only last a short time.

in/within a short time

▪ How did you manage to do all this in such a short time?

▪ The police arrived within a very short time.

a short time ago

▪ Your friends left a short time ago.

for a short time

▪ I think he went to prison for a short time.

▷ a little while/a short while /ə ˌlɪtl ˈwaɪl, ə ˌʃɔːʳt ˈwaɪl/ [singular noun]

a short period of time, during or after which something happens :

▪ It always takes a little while to get used to the climate.

for a short/little while

▪ Bob’s only worked here for a short while, about six months I think.

a little while/a short while ago

▪ He died a little while ago.

▪ She was in the papers a short while ago.

after/in a little/short while

▪ If you take the pills now, your headache will go after a short while.

▪ Don’t start that now, it’ll be time to go in a little while.

▷ a minute/a moment /ə ˈmɪnə̇t, ə ˈməʊmənt/ [singular noun]

a very short time, no more than a few minutes :

▪ Just a moment Susie, can I have a quick word with you?

▪ Can I borrow your pen a minute?

▪ Wait a minute, I’m nearly ready.

a minute/moment ago

▪ Where’s Charles gone? He was here a moment ago.

for/in a minute/moment

▪ Sit down for a minute and rest your legs.

▪ Mark should be back in a moment.

▪ I’ll be with you in a minute.

▷ a second/an instant /ə ˈsekənd, ən ˈɪnstənt/ [singular noun]

an extremely short time, no more than a few seconds :

▪ Do you mind switching the telly on a second?

▪ An instant later, she let out a piercing scream.

▪ ‘Yes,’ she declared, without an instant’s hesitation.

▪ ‘Have you finished writing?’ ‘No, hang on a second.’

for a second/an instant

▪ Can I stop you there, just for a second?

▪ Just hold that end for a second while I fix this to the wall.

▪ Did her eyes flicker open for an instant?

in a second/an instant

▪ Mr Smart’s on the other line, can he call you back in a second?

▪ We both fell asleep in an instant.

▷ a bit /ə ˈbɪt/ [singular noun] British spoken

a short time, usually just a few minutes :

▪ I waited, and a bit later the phone went again -- it was Bill.

▪ Oh, wait a bit, can’t you?

after/for/in a bit

▪ I think I’ll lie down for a bit.

▪ ‘Are you coming?’ ‘Yes, in a bit.’

▪ After a bit, Bill had started to tire of her company.

10. continuing for only a short time

▷ short /ʃɔːʳt/ [adjective]

continuing for only a short time :

▪ The meeting was shorter than I’d expected.

▪ the shortest day of the year

▪ a short course in aromatherapy

▪ It would have been better if they’d closed the road for a short period of time while the repairs were done.

▷ quick /kwɪk/ [adjective only before noun]

a quick action takes only a very short time, because you are in a hurry :

▪ I took a quick look at the map.

▪ Do I have time for a quick shower before we go out?

▪ She’s going to give me a quick lesson on Feng Shui this afternoon.

▪ Can I ask just one quick question?

▷ brief /briːf/ [adjective]

a brief pause, visit etc is short, especially because there is not much time available :

▪ It was impossible to see everything during our brief visit to Paris.

▪ After a brief intermission, the performance continued.

▷ not take long /nɒt teɪk ˈlɒŋǁ-ˈlɔːŋ/ [verb phrase]

if something does not take long, you do it and finish it in a short time :

▪ Let me show you how to use the program -- it won’t take long.

not take long to do

▪ We’ll have the chicken drumsticks - they won’t take long to thaw.

it doesn’t take (somebody) long to do something

▪ It didn’t take long to solve the problem.

▪ It sure didn’t take you long to smell the food!

▷ temporary /ˈtemp ə rəri, -p ə riǁ-pəreri/ [adjective]

something that is temporary is expected to continue for only a short time and will not be permanent :

▪ The doctor says the swelling is just temporary and should go down in a few days.

▪ a temporary driver’s license

▪ They’re living in temporary accommodation at the moment.

temporary workers/staff/job etc

▪ Demand for temporary workers continues to rise.

▪ Ben’s found a temporary job until November.

temporarily [adverb]

for a limited period of time :

▪ The library is temporarily closed for repairs.

▷ short-lived /ˌʃɔːʳt ˈlɪvd◂/ [adjective]

something that is short-lived ends sooner than you want it to - use this especially about a feeling or relationship :

▪ They had a passionate but short-lived affair.

▪ We were glad to be home, but our happiness was short-lived.

▪ However, the President’s popularity may prove to be short-lived.

▷ passing /ˈpɑːsɪŋǁˈpæ-/ [adjective only before noun]

passing thought/interest/fashion/phase etc

one that continues for a short time and then quickly disappears :

▪ At the time, I didn’t give Alison so much as a passing thought -- I had other things on my mind.

▪ Most people take only a passing interest in their horoscope.

▪ Whether this is just a passing fad or a lasting fashion trend, only time will tell.

▷ ephemeral /ɪˈfem ə rəl/ [adjective] formal

continuing for only a short time - used especially in literature :

▪ No dictionary can really capture something as fleeting and ephemeral as slang.

▪ Hopes of political unity in the region have proved ephemeral.

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