Meaning of SHORT in English

I. short 1 S1 W1 /ʃɔːt $ ʃɔːrt/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative shorter , superlative shortest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ short , ↑ shortage , ↑ shortness , shorts, ↑ shorty ; verb : ↑ shorten , ↑ short ; adverb : ↑ short , ↑ shortly ; adjective : ↑ short ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: scort ]

1 . TIME happening or continuing for only a little time or for less time than usual OPP long :

a short meeting

Morris gave a short laugh.

a short course on business English

Winter is coming and the days are getting shorter.

I’ve only been in Brisbane a short time.

For a short while (=a short time) , the city functioned as the region’s capital.

I learned a lot during my short period as a junior reporter.

Germany achieved spectacular economic success in a relatively short period of time.

They met and married within a short space of time.

I promise to keep the meeting short and sweet (=short in a way that is good, especially not talking for a long time) .

For a few short weeks (=they seemed to pass very quickly) , the sun shone and the fields turned gold.

2 . LENGTH/DISTANCE measuring a small amount in length or distance OPP long :

a short skirt

Anita had her hair cut short.

They went by the shortest route, across the fields.

Carol’s office was only a short distance away, and she decided that she would walk there.

a short walk/flight/drive

It’s a short drive to the airport.

The hotel is only a short walk from the beach.

3 . NOT TALL someone who is short is not as tall as most people OPP tall :

a short plump woman

Chris was short and stocky, with broad shoulders.

He’s a bit shorter than me.

4 . BOOK/LETTER a book, letter etc that is short does not have many words or pages OPP long :

a short novel

I wrote a short note to explain.

⇨ ↑ short story


a) if you are short of something, you do not have enough of it

be short (of something)

Can you lend me a couple of dollars? I’m a little short.

be short of money/cash/funds

Our libraries are short of funds.

be 5p/$10 etc short

Have you all paid me? I’m about £9 short.

I’m a bit short British English spoken (=I haven’t got much money at the moment)

somebody is not short of something British English (=they have a lot of it)

Your little girl’s not short of confidence, is she?

They’re not short of a few bob (=they are rich) .

b) if something is short, there is not enough of it:

Money was short in those days.

It’s going to be difficult – time is short.

Gasoline was in short supply (=not enough of it was available) after the war.

6 . be short on something to have less of something than you should have:

He’s a nice guy, but a little short on brains.

The president’s speech was long on colorful phrases but short on solutions.

7 . LESS THAN a little less than a number

short of

Her time was only two seconds short of the world record.

just/a little short of something

She was just short of six feet tall.

8 . short notice if something is short notice, you are told about it only a short time before it happens:

I can’t make it Friday. It’s very short notice.

at short notice British English on short notice American English :

The party was arranged at short notice.

9 . in the short term/run during the period of time that is not very far into the future ⇨ short-term :

These measures may save money in the short term, but we’ll end up spending more later.

10 . have a short memory if someone has a short memory, they soon forget something that has happened:

Voters have very short memories.

11 . be short for something to be a shorter way of saying a name:

Her name is Alex, short for Alexandra.

12 . be short of breath to be unable to breathe easily, especially because you are unhealthy:

He couldn’t walk far without getting short of breath.

13 . be short with somebody to speak to someone using very few words, in a way that seems rude or unfriendly:

Sorry I was short with you on the phone this morning.

14 . have a short temper/fuse to get angry very easily:

Mr Yanto, who had a very short fuse, told her to get out.

15 . get/be given short shrift if you or your idea, suggestion etc is given short shrift, you are told immediately that you are wrong and are not given any attention or sympathy:

McLaren got short shrift from all the record companies when he first presented his new band to them in 1976.

16 . be nothing/little short of something used to emphasize that something is very good, very surprising etc:

Her recovery seemed nothing short of a miracle.

The results are little short of astonishing.

17 . draw/get the short straw to be given something difficult or unpleasant to do, especially when other people have been given something better:

Giles drew the short straw, and has to give us a talk this morning.

18 . make short work of (doing) something to finish something quickly and easily, especially food or a job:

The kids made short work of the sandwiches.

Computers can make short work of complex calculations.

19 . have/get somebody by the short and curlies ( also have/get somebody by the short hairs ) British English informal not polite to put someone in a situation in which they are forced to do or accept what you want:

I signed the contract – they’ve got me by the short and curlies.

20 . be one ... short of a ... spoken used humorously to say that someone is a little crazy or stupid:

Lady, are you a few aces short of a deck?

He’s one sandwich short of a picnic.

21 . short time British English when workers work for fewer hours than usual, because the company cannot afford to pay them their full wage:

Most of the workers were put on short time.

22 . in short order formal in a short time and without delay

23 . give somebody short measure British English old-fashioned to give someone less than the correct amount of something, especially in a shop

24 . SOUND technical a short vowel is pronounced quickly without being emphasized, for example the sound of a in ‘cat’, e in ‘bet’, and i in ‘bit’ OPP long

—shortness noun [uncountable] :

He was suffering from shortness of breath.

Shirley was very conscious of her shortness and always wore high heels.

⇨ life’s too short at ↑ life (27)

• • •


■ time

▪ short not long:

I lived in Tokyo for a short time.


Smokers have a shorter life expectancy than non-smokers.

▪ brief especially written lasting only for a short time. Brief is more formal than short , and is used especially in written English:

The President will make a brief visit to Seattle today.


He coached Hingis for a brief period in the 1990s.

▪ quick [only before noun] taking a short time to do something:

I had a quick look at the map.


He had a quick shower and then went out.

▪ short-lived lasting only for a short time – used especially when someone wishes that a good situation had been able to last for longer:

short-lived success


The ceasefire was short-lived.


a short-lived romance


short-lived optimism about the economy

▪ fleeting lasting only for an extremely short time – used especially when someone wishes that something had been able to last for longer:

a fleeting visit


a fleeting smile


She caught a fleeting glimpse of him.


a fleeting moment of happiness


a fleeting thought

▪ momentary lasting for a very short time – used especially about feelings or pauses:

There was a momentary pause in the conversation.


The momentary panic ended when he found his two-year-old son waiting happily outside the store.

▪ passing [only before noun] lasting only for a short time – used especially when people are only interested in something or mention something for a short time:

passing fashions


He made only a passing reference to war.


It’s just a passing phase (=it will end soon) .

▪ ephemeral formal lasting only for a short time, and ending quickly like everything else in this world:

Beauty is ephemeral.


the ephemeral nature of our existence


His wealth proved to be ephemeral.

■ person

▪ short someone who is short is not as tall as most people:

He was a short fat man.

▪ not very tall quite short. This phrase sounds more gentle than saying that someone is short :

She wasn’t very tall – maybe about 1.60 m.

▪ small short and with a small body:

My mother was a small woman.


The girl was quite small for her age (=smaller than other girls of the same age) .

▪ petite used about a woman who is attractively short and thin:

She was a petite woman with blonde hair.

▪ stocky used about a boy or man who is short, heavy, and strong:

Harry was stocky and middle-aged.

▪ dumpy short and fat:

a dumpy girl with red hair

▪ diminutive formal literary very short or small – used especially in descriptions in novels:

a diminutive figure dressed in black

▪ stubby stubby fingers or toes are short and thick:

the baby’s stubby little fingers

II. short 2 BrE AmE adverb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ short , ↑ shortage , ↑ shortness , shorts, ↑ shorty ; verb : ↑ shorten , ↑ short ; adverb : ↑ short , ↑ shortly ; adjective : ↑ short ]

1 . fall short of something to be less than what you need, expected, or hoped for, or to fail to reach a satisfactory standard:

The Republicans increased their share of the vote, but still fell short of a majority.

Shares in the company dropped 26p yesterday, as profits fell short of City expectations.

fall short of a goal/target/ideal

The economy fell short of the Treasury’s target of 2% growth.

fall far/a long way/well short of something

Facilities in these schools fall far short of the standards required.

One or two songs on the album are interesting, but most fall short of the mark (=are not good enough) .

2 . be running short (of/on something) if you are running short of something, or if something is running short, it is being used up and there will soon not be enough left:

We’re running short of coffee again.

Our supplies of petrol were running short.

Come on, time’s running short!

3 . stop short of doing something to almost do something but then decide not to do it:

They accused the president of incompetence, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

4 . stop short to suddenly stop speaking or stop what you are doing, because something has surprised you or you have just thought of something:

Seeing her tears, he stopped short.

5 . be cut short if something is cut short, it is stopped before you expect or before it is finished:

His career was tragically cut short when, at the age of 42, he died of a heart attack.

6 . cut somebody short to interrupt and stop someone when they are speaking:

I was halfway through my explanation when Walter cut me short.

7 . pull/bring somebody up short to surprise or shock someone so that they stop what they are doing or saying to think for a moment:

The question brought her up short, but, after a moment’s hesitation, she answered it.

8 . 3 metres/5 miles etc short of something without reaching a place you are trying to get to, because you are still a particular distance from it:

The plane touched down 200 metres short of the runway.

9 . two weeks/a month etc short of something two weeks, a month etc before something:

He died two days short of his fifty-sixth birthday.

10 . short of (doing) something without actually doing something:

Short of locking her in her room, he couldn’t really stop her from seeing Jack.

11 . come up short to fail to win or achieve something:

We’ve been to the state tournament four times, but we’ve come up short every time.

12 . go short (of something) British English to have less of something than you need:

She made sure that her children never went short.

13 . be taken short/be caught short British English informal to have a sudden strong need to go to the toilet when you are not near one

III. short 3 BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ short , ↑ shortage , ↑ shortness , shorts, ↑ shorty ; verb : ↑ shorten , ↑ short ; adverb : ↑ short , ↑ shortly ; adjective : ↑ short ]

1 . shorts [plural]

a) short trousers ending at or above the knees:

a pair of shorts

tourists in shorts and T-shirts

⇨ ↑ Bermuda shorts , ↑ cycling shorts

b) especially American English men’s underwear with short legs:

Craig was standing in the kitchen in his shorts.

⇨ ↑ boxer shorts , ↑ Jockey shorts

2 . in short used when you want to give the main point of something:

Carter hoped for greater trust between the two nations, more trade, more cultural exchanges – in short, a genuine peace.

3 . for short used as a shorter way of saying a name:

His name’s Maximilian, but we just call him Max for short.

4 . [countable] informal a short film shown in the cinema

5 . [countable] British English informal a strong alcoholic drink that is not beer or wine, drunk in a small glass SYN shot American English :

Do you fancy a short?

6 . [countable] informal a ↑ short circuit :

a short in the system

⇨ the long and the short of it at ↑ long 1 (10)

• • •


▪ film especially British English , movie especially American English a series of images that tell a story and are shown in a cinema or on television:

What’s your favourite movie?


It won the award for best foreign film.


a made-for-TV movie

▪ motion picture formal ( also picture ) a film – used especially by people who make films or by critics:

a major Hollywood motion picture


Tell us about your latest picture.

▪ blockbuster informal a very successful film:

Steven Spielberg’s latest Hollywood blockbuster

▪ flick informal a film – a very informal use:

an action flick

▪ documentary a film that gives detailed information and facts about a particular subject:

a documentary on the rain forest

▪ feature film a film made to be shown in cinemas:

The book was later made into a full-length feature film starring Sean Penn.

▪ comedy a film intended to make people laugh:

Monroe appeared in a number of comedies.

▪ romantic comedy ( also romcom British English informal ) a film about two people who are in love, which is intended to make the people who watch it feel happy:

‘Notting Hill’ is a romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.

▪ thriller an exciting film, especially about murder or serious crimes:

‘The Birds’ is a classic Hitchcock thriller.

▪ film noir a film that shows strong feelings of fear or evil and whose characters are often immoral, or these films in general:

‘The Big Sleep’ is a classic Hollywood film noir.

▪ action film/movie a film that has lots of fighting, explosions etc:

Stallone’s latest action movie

▪ horror film/movie a frightening film about ghosts, murders etc:

She loves watching old horror movies.

▪ western a film with cowboys in it:

John Wayne is famous for making westerns.

▪ science fiction film/movie ( also sci-fi film/movie informal ) a film about imaginary events in the future or in outer space:

‘2001’ is probably the most famous sci-fi movie ever made.

▪ gangster film/movie a film about violent criminals

▪ silent film/movie an old film without any sound:

The 1920s were the golden age of silent movies.

▪ an independent film/movie a film made by a small film company

▪ animated film/movie/cartoon a film with characters that are drawn or made using a computer:

One of his first animated films was ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.

▪ anime /ˈænɪmeɪ, -mə/ a type of Japanese animated film, which often has a science fiction story:

Miyazaki’s anime film ‘Spirited Away’ became an international success.


an anime character

▪ CGI the use of computers to create characters and images in a film:

The film uses CGI.


Disney’s latest CGI movie

▪ short a short film, usually shown before a longer movie in the cinema:

an animated short

▪ trailer a series of short scenes from a film or programme, shown in order to advertise it in a cinema, on television etc:

We had to sit through all the trailers.

IV. short 4 BrE AmE ( also short out ) verb [intransitive and transitive]

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ short , ↑ shortage , ↑ shortness , shorts, ↑ shorty ; verb : ↑ shorten , ↑ short ; adverb : ↑ short , ↑ shortly ; adjective : ↑ short ]

to ↑ short-circuit , or make something do this:

The toaster shorted and caused a fire.

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