Meaning of SMALL in English



1. small in size

2. extremely small in size

3. small numbers/amounts

4. small and not making much difference to something

5. rooms, houses etc that are too small

6. to become smaller in size




see also







1. small in size

▷ small /smɔːl/ [adjective]

▪ His office was a small room at the top of the building.

▪ Which is the smallest state in the US?

▪ Mrs Newman was small and slightly plump, with a round face.

▪ People are buying smaller cars because they are cheaper to run.

▪ These shoes are too small for me.

▷ little /ˈlɪtl/ [adjective only before noun]

small - use this especially to show how you feel about someone or something, for example to show that you like them, dislike them, or feel sorry for them :

▪ It’s just a little souvenir I brought back from Italy

▪ What an annoying little boy!

▪ Oh, the poor little thing, he’s hurt his paw.

▪ What a lovely little dog!

▪ They bought a nice little house near the beach.

▷ compact /kəmˈpækt, ˈkɒmpæktǁkəmˈpækt/ [adjective]

a house, room etc that is compact is small but comfortable and convenient, because the space has been used effectively; a compact camera, computer etc is designed to be small and easy to carry :

▪ The apartment was ideal for the two of us - small but compact.

▪ There is a compact dining area, which feels cozy rather than cramped.

▪ The PowerShot is a compact unit that weighs less than 11 ounces and fits easily in your pocket.

▷ pocket /ˈpɒkɪt, ˈpɒkətǁˈpɑː-/ [adjective only before noun]

pocket calculator/torch/camera etc

one that is small and that you can carry easily, for example in your pocket or bag :

▪ Students are allowed to take pocket calculators into their exams.

▪ She took a pocket mirror out of her handbag and put on some lipstick.

▪ a pocket dictionary

▷ dainty /ˈdeɪnti/ [adjective]

an object that is dainty is small and delicate in an attractive way :

▪ We drank Turkish coffee out of dainty china cups.

▪ She was wearing a short black dress and dainty black sandals.

2. extremely small in size

▷ tiny /ˈtaɪni/ [adjective]

▪ Have you seen Vic’s apartment? It’s tiny.

▪ Luke put out his hand and touched the tiny fingers of his baby daughter.

▪ a tiny village in the mountains

tiny little

▪ The box was full of tiny little blue and white beads.

▷ minute /maɪˈnjuːtǁ-ˈnuːt/ [adjective]

extremely small and difficult to see :

▪ Police found minute traces of blood on the car seats.

▪ Her writing’s so minute that it’s difficult to read.

▪ The problem was caused by minute particles of dust getting in the disk drive.

▷ minuscule /ˈmɪnɪskjuːl, ˈmɪnəskjuːl/ [adjective]

a lot smaller than usual, especially in a way that seems surprising :

▪ Compared to its adult size, a new-born kangaroo is minuscule.

▪ The pool was surrounded by bronzed girls wearing minuscule bikinis.

▷ microscopic /ˌmaɪkrəˈskɒpɪk◂ǁ-ˈskɑː-/ [adjective]

an object or living creature that is microscopic is so small that it is difficult or impossible to see without using special equipment :

▪ The skin is covered with microscopic hairs, invisible to the naked eye.

▪ A primitive form of microscopic life may have existed on Mars billions of years ago.

▪ Many of these organisms are microscopic in size.

▷ miniature /ˈmɪnɪtʃəʳ, ˈmɪnətʃəʳǁˈmɪniə-/ [adjective usually before noun]

very small, but made just like something of normal size :

▪ Next to the beach there’s a miniature railway.

▪ The locket contained a miniature portrait of her late husband.

▪ a miniature TV with a 2 inch screen

3. small numbers/amounts

▷ small /smɔːl/ [adjective]

▪ There wasn’t really much I could buy with such a small amount.

▪ Only a small number of people eventually turned up.

▪ The level of radiation in the atmosphere is really very small.

▷ low /ləʊ/ [adjective]


prices, wages, levels etc are less than usual or less than they should be :

▪ It’s a good time to buy a computer, because prices are low.

▪ Farm workers are complaining about long hours and low wages.

▪ Low interest rates mean good news for home owners.

▷ tiny /ˈtaɪni/ [adjective]

a tiny number or amount is extremely small :

▪ Only a tiny fraction of our profit comes from book sales.

▪ You only need to use a tiny amount of salt.

▪ The proportion of babies that suffer from the disease is tiny.

a tiny majority

a very small number of a much larger group

▪ Millions of people buy lottery tickets, but only a tiny majority ever win anything.

▷ minute /maɪˈnjuːtǁ-ˈnuːt/ [adjective]

a minute amount is extremely small, and is often so small that it makes very little difference to something :

▪ Only minute amounts of the chemical were found in the water supply.

▪ The substance is so toxic that even a minute dose of it could be fatal.

4. small and not making much difference to something

▷ small /smɔːl/ [adjective]

▪ I want to make a few small changes to the design.

▪ There is still one small problem that we haven’t dealt with.

▪ Government statistics showed a small drop in the annual rate of inflation.

▷ slight /slaɪt/ [adjective usually before noun]

small and not very important or not very noticeable :

▪ There has been a slight change of plan.

▪ The doctor says there has been a slight improvement in her condition.

▪ He was a good friend - always available to help at the slightest sign of need.

not the slightest

none at all

▪ Tom? I haven’t the slightest idea where he is.

▪ US foreign policy at the time hadn’t made the slightest difference in the situation.

▷ minor /ˈmaɪnəʳ/ [adjective only before noun]

not important enough or serious enough to worry about :

▪ She fell off her horse, but suffered only minor injuries.

▪ The contract seems fine, except for a few minor details.

▪ With one or two minor changes, the course is the same as last year.

▷ infinitesimal /ˌɪnfɪnɪˈtesəm ə l◂, ˌɪnfɪnəˈtesəm ə l◂/ [adjective]

an infinitesimal amount, risk etc is so small that it makes very little difference or is not worth worrying about :

▪ Even an infinitesimal change in temperature will be recorded by the equipment.

▪ I’d say the chances of your catching the disease are infinitesimal.

infinitesimally [adverb]

▪ The eggs of the lice are infinitesimally small and very easy to miss.

▷ tiny /ˈtaɪni/ [adjective]

extremely small :

▪ I’ve made one or two tiny alterations, but otherwise the house is the same as when I bought it.

▪ There’s been a tiny decrease in the number of people out of work.

▷ minute /maɪˈnjuːtǁ-ˈnuːt/ [adjective]

a change or difference that is minute is so small that it is difficult to see it or notice any effects resulting from it :

▪ The equipment records minute changes in air pressure.

5. rooms, houses etc that are too small

▷ cramped /kræmpt/ [adjective]

a room, space, or vehicle that is cramped is uncomfortable because there is not enough space inside it for people to move around :

▪ I hated working in that cramped little office.

▪ Conditions on board the ship were extremely cramped.

▷ poky/pokey British also dinky American /ˈpəʊki, ˈdɪŋki/ [adjective]

small, unattractive, and uncomfortable to be in :

▪ The whole family lives in two pokey little rooms at the back of the building.

▪ There was only one dinky store with a few cans of soup and some other useless junk for sale.

6. to become smaller in size

▷ get smaller /ˌget ˈsmɔːləʳ/ [verb phrase]

▪ The dot got smaller and smaller and vanished from the screen.

▪ Am I getting fatter or are these jeans getting smaller?

▷ shrink /ʃrɪŋk/ [intransitive verb]

if something shrinks, especially clothes, it becomes smaller because of the effect of water or heat :

▪ Don’t wash that sweater in the machine - it’ll shrink.

▪ Oh no! My skirt has shrunk!

▷ shrivel/shrivel up /ˈʃrɪv ə l, ˌʃrɪv ə l ˈʌp/ [intransitive verb/intransitive phrasal verb]

if something such as a plant or a fruit shrivels or shrivels up, it becomes smaller as water is removed from it, for example as a result of heat :

▪ Eventually the grapes will shrivel and become raisins,

▪ The crops were beginning to shrivel up in the heat.

shrivelled/shrivelled up [adjective]

▪ I don’t want this orange, it’s all shrivelled up.

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