Meaning of LONG in English


I. long 1 S1 W1 /lɒŋ $ lɒːŋ/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative longer , superlative longest )

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: long , lang ]

1 . GREAT LENGTH measuring a great length from one end to the other OPP short :

a long table

long hair

the longest tunnel in the world

He stretched out his long legs.

a long line of people

2 . GREAT DISTANCE continuing or travelling a great distance from one place to another OPP short :

a long distance

Springfield is a long way from Chicago.

Liz lives in Cheltenham, which is a long way away.

long journey/walk/flight/drive etc (=a journey etc over a large distance that takes a lot of time)

It’s a long walk to the shops from here.

3 . LARGE AMOUNT OF TIME continuing for a large amount of time, or for a larger amount of time than usual OPP short :

a long period of time

a long history of success

He has a long memory.

(for) a long time/while

He’s been gone a long time.

I haven’t been there for a long while.

It took a long time to get everything ready.

She died a long time ago.

long silence/pause/delay etc

There was a long silence before anybody spoke.

She’s recovering from a long illness.

Doctors often work long hours (=work for more time than is usual) .

the longest time American English spoken (=a very long time)

It took me the longest time to figure out how to open the windows.

4 . PARTICULAR LENGTH/DISTANCE/TIME used to talk or ask about a particular length, distance, or time:

How long is your garden?

How long is the film?

The cable is not quite long enough.

two metres/three miles etc long

The bridge is 140 feet long.

two hours/three days etc long

The speech was twenty minutes long.

5 . WRITING containing a lot of words, letters, names, or pages OPP short :

a long novel

a long list

He has a very long name.

He owes money to a list of people as long as your arm (=a very long list) .

6 . CLOTHING covering all of your arms or legs OPP short :

a long dress

a long-sleeved shirt

7 . TIRING/BORING spoken making you feel tired or bored:

It’s been a long day.

8 . VOWEL technical a long vowel in a word is pronounced for a longer time than a short vowel with the same sound OPP short

9 . how long is a piece of string? British English spoken used when there is no definite answer to a question:

‘How long will it take to finish the project?’ ‘How long is a piece of string?’

10 . the long and (the) short of it spoken used when you are telling someone the most important facts about something rather than all the details:

The long and the short of it is that we missed the train.

11 . the long arm of somebody/something written the power of someone or something that has authority, especially to catch and punish someone:

He won’t escape the long arm of the law.

12 . long face a sad or disappointed expression on someone’s face

13 . long in the tooth informal too old – used humorously:

I’m getting a bit long in the tooth for this sort of thing.

14 . not long for this world literary likely to die or stop existing soon

15 . long on something having a lot of a quality:

He was short on patience, but long on a sense of his own worth.

16 . long odds if there are long odds against something happening, it is very unlikely that it will happen

17 . in the long run/term used when talking about what will happen at a later time or when something is finished:

All our hard work will be worth it in the long run.

18 . long shot someone or something with very little chance of success:

Chelsea are a 20–1 long shot to win the championship.

19 . long time no see spoken used humorously to say hello when you have not seen someone for a long time

20 . take the long view (of something) to think about the effect that something will have in the future rather than what happens now

21 . a long way very much, far, or a great amount or degree:

We’re still a long way from achieving our sales targets.

Psychiatry has come a long way (=developed a lot) since the 1920s.

Your contributions will go a long way towards helping children in need (=will help to reach a goal) .

by a long way/shot informal also by a long chalk )British English (=used when something is much better, quicker, cheaper etc)

It was his best performance this year, by a long way.

not by a long way/shot informal also not by a long chalk )British English (=not at all or not nearly)

He had not told Rory everything, not by a long shot.

22 . long weekend three or more days, including Saturday and Sunday, when you do not have to go to work or school

⇨ at (long) last at ↑ last 3 (2), ⇨ it’s a long story at ↑ story (10), ⇨ cut/make a long story short at ↑ story (11), ⇨ a little (of something) goes a long way at ↑ little 2 (5), ⇨ have a long way to go at ↑ way 1 (19)

• • •


▪ long continuing for a long time:

The film was very long.


There has been a long period without rain.

▪ lengthy continuing for a long time, especially longer than you want or expect:

Drivers face lengthy delays on all roads out of the city.


Police are going through the lengthy process of re-examining all the evidence.


He faces a lengthy prison sentence.

▪ long-running [only before noun] continuing for a long time - used especially about disputes, campaigns, or shows:

He has been involved in a long-running dispute with his neighbour.


The programme is one of the longest-running series on television.


a long-running campaign to prevent the airport from being built

▪ long-lasting continuing for a long time – used especially about effects or relationships:

Stress can have long-lasting effects.


While at the school, she made many long-lasting friendships.

▪ protracted formal continuing for a long time, especially an unusually long time:

Despite protracted negotiations, they were unable to reach an agreement.


The couple have been involved in a protracted battle for custody of their children.

▪ prolonged continuing for a long time, especially longer than expected, or longer in a way that makes a situation worse:

He returned to work after a prolonged absence.


Studies have linked prolonged use of the drug to cancer.


a prolonged period of economic decline

▪ extended [only before noun] continuing for a long time - used especially about visits, trips, breaks etc that last longer than was planned:

an extended stay in hospital


He took an extended break from work after his father died.


She didn’t like being away from home for extended periods.

▪ lasting [only before noun] strong enough or great enough to continue for a long time:

The negotiations were aimed at achieving a lasting peace.


This affair has done lasting damage to the President’s credibility.


The book left a lasting impression on me.

▪ enduring continuing for a long time – used especially about memories, influences, or feelings of liking someone or something:

One of my most enduring memories is of going on holiday to France with my parents.


the enduring appeal of Conan Doyle's stories


his enduring love for Ireland

▪ marathon [only before noun] continuing for a very long time and needing a lot of energy, patience, or determination:

It was a marathon session of talks which continued until 3 am.


He arrived after a marathon journey across Europe.

■ too long

▪ long-winded continuing for too long - used about speeches, answers, explanations etc:

a very long-winded answer to a simple question


He gave a long-winded speech about the company's vision for the future.

▪ interminable very long and boring:

They faced an interminable wait in the departure lounge of the airport.


The journey seemed interminable.

▪ long-drawn-out [only before noun] used about a process that continues for much too long:

The news heightened expectations that the long-drawn-out investigation might be coming to a close.

II. long 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE adverb

1 . for a long time:

Have you been waiting long?

Reform of the law is long overdue.

long established traditions

2 . used to ask and talk about particular amounts of time:

How long will it take to get there?

Try to keep going for as long as possible.

It took me longer than I thought it would.

3 . at a time that is a long time before or after a particular time

long before/after something

This all happened long before you were born.

long ago/since

He should have left her long ago.

It wasn’t long before (=soon) Lisa arrived.

4 . for long [usually in questions and negatives] for a long time:

Have you known them for long?

I haven’t seen her for so long that I’ve forgotten what she looks like.

5 . as/so long as

a) used to say that one thing can happen or be true only if another thing happens or is true:

You can go out to play as long as you stay in the back yard.

b) used to say that one thing will continue to happen or be true if another thing happens or is true at the same time:

As long as we keep playing well, we’ll keep winning games.

6 . (for) as long as used to talk about something continuing for the amount of time that you want, need, or is possible:

You can stay for as long as you want.

She tried to stay awake for as long as she could.

The fruit should be left on the tree as long as possible.

7 . no longer/not any longer used when something used to happen or be true in the past but does not happen or is not true now:

The extra workers won’t be needed any longer.

It’s no longer a secret.


In everyday English, people usually say not any longer or not any more (BrE) /not anymore (AmE), rather than no longer , which sounds slightly formal or literary:

▪ He no longer lives here. ➔ He doesn’t live here any longer OR any more.

8 . before long soon or in a short time:

Before long a large crowd had gathered outside the building.

It’s likely that the law will be abolished before long.

9 . somebody/something/it won’t be long spoken used to say that someone or something will be ready, will be back, will happen etc soon:

Wait here – I won’t be long.

Dinner won’t be long.

10 . all day/year/summer etc long during all of the day etc

11 . so long especially spoken American English goodbye

12 . long live somebody/something used to show support for a person, idea, principle, or nation:

Long live the King!

III. long 3 BrE AmE verb [intransitive]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: langian ]

to want something very much, especially when it seems unlikely to happen soon

long to do something

He longed to see her again.

long for

She longed for the chance to speak to him in private.

long for somebody to do something

She longed for him to return.

⇨ ↑ longed-for , ↑ longing

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.