Meaning of SMALL in English


I. ˈsmȯl adjective

( -er/-est )

Etymology: Middle English smal, from Old English smæl; akin to Old High German smal small, Old Norse smali small cattle, Icelandic smalr small, Gothic smalista smallest, Latin malus bad, Greek mēlon sheep, goat, Armenian mal sheep, ram


a. : slight in circumference especially as compared with length or with another similar thing

a small waist

sausage casings made from the small bowel

b. archaic : narrow in width especially as compared with length


a. : having little size especially as compared with other similar things : not large or extended in dimensions, girth, or mass

a small house

small lumps of coal

the child is small for his age

b. : small in size by reason of incomplete growth : immature , young

toys for small children

small plants for bedding


(1) : consisting of small pieces or units

the branches yield small wood for burning

(2) : little 1a(5)

d. of a letter : comparatively small in size, usually less angular than the corresponding capital letter, and in print usually having a body that does not extend above lower-case x height but in several letters having the overall height increased upward by an ascender or downward by a descender

3. dialect England : fine in texture or in the size of constituent particles : not coarse or heavy

a small misty rain


a. : of little influence, power, or authority : of low rank : lacking high position or status

the small people who are the backbone of the nation

b. : lacking prominence in a particular sphere : minor in rank or ability : not noteworthy or great

small poets


(1) : being such to a limited degree : petty

small criminals

(2) : having little capital or resources : operating on a limited scale in respect to assets, employees, and volume of business

a small farmer

small manufactories

also : having or serving a small clientele

small shops

a small tradesman

5. : lacking in strength: as

a. of the voice : gentle , soft

b. : very dilute ; especially : deficient in or free from alcohol

the wine was very thin and small


a. : little in a way that is objectively measurable (as in quantity, amount, value, duration, extent)

a small number

a small salary

a small distance away

waited a small space of time

b. : made up of units that are few in number, little in size, low in value, or otherwise objectively small

a small standing army

small change


a. : of little consequence, weight, or importance : insignificant

a small fault

played a small role in the show

b. : lacking in prominence : humble , modest

living in a small way

from such small beginnings

c. of language : plain , simple

8. : limited or slight in degree, intensity, scope, or similar quality : less and often markedly less than is usual, expected, or fitting : trifling

had small interest in public affairs

paying small heed to his mother's warning

suffered a small mishap


a. : lacking in largeness of spirit : not large-minded or generous : mean

a small and cruel revenge

a harsh small man

b. : humiliated, humbled

never felt so small in his life


small , little , diminutive , wee , tiny , teeny , weeny , minute , microscopic , miniature , and petite agree in meaning noticeably below the average in magnitude, especially physical. small and little are often interchangeable, but small more frequently applies to things whose magnitude is formulated in terms of number, size, capacity, value, or significance

a small audience

a small child

a small car

small bills

a small effect upon one's life

a small reputation

or modifies words like quantity, amount, size, or capacity

a small quantity of flour

rooms of a small size

or limits intangible or generally immeasurable things

a small mind

a small personality

a small prospect of succeeding

little is usually more absolute in implication, often carrying the idea of petiteness, pettiness, or insignificance in literal or figurative size, amount, quantity, or extent

a little woman

our little ambitions

a little mind

a little man in all qualities of character

little hope of a cure

little also often signifies a small amount, a small quantity, or a small extent of (something)

a little meat

a small house and a little land

or carries a note of pathos, tenderness, or affection

a little heart-rending smile

a little adorable child

diminutive can stress not only smallness but often extreme, sometimes abnormal, smallness in comparison

peasants who have wine for their ordinary drink, are of a diminutive size — Tobias Smollett

a little black mustache and diminutive chin-beard — George Santayana

diminutive houses and furniture fit only for dolls — W.H.Mallock

these diminutive crabs are scavengers and live in holes in the mud at tide line — American Guide Series: Florida

petite applies to a proportionally small but usually pleasingly trim woman or girl

petite in stature: her height is about five feet, her weight, 112 pounds — Current Biography

a petite actress with strong box-office appeal

wee is homely or dialect for diminutive

though my own interest quickened, my wee son, then aged one-and-a-half years, grew distinctly bored — O.S.Nock

a wee drop of whiskey

tiny goes farther than diminutive in suggesting extreme littleness or smallness by comparison

in my lapel was a tiny gold lizard — Victor Canning

the poisonous ingredient which magnified will kill, but in tiny quantities will cure — B.N.Cardozo

children who squat patiently over those tiny little holes in the ground where doodlebugs are thought to live — Carson McCullers

a wee tiny voice

teeny and weeny , occurring chiefly in children's or playful or humorous use, denote the same thing as diminutive or wee; the variant forms teeny-weeny, teeny-tiny, teensy-weensy, and similar reduplications, merely emphasize diminutiveness more or are more childish or playful

a little teeny dog can make enough racket to attract neighbors' attention — English Digest

two veteran progressive-school teachers who have grown a weeny bit tired of their energetic, articulate, expressive little charges — Dwight MacDonald

a teeny-weeny little dwarf

when I was a teensy-weensy little girl

microscopic applies to or suggests what is small or insignificant enough to be observed usually only by the use of a microscope

microscopic germs

microscopic particles of dust

the mill workers who labored twelve or thirteen or fourteen hours a day for a microscopic wage — F.L.Allen

traverses rolling farm country, spans creeks, passes through microscopic settlements, and penetrates scrubby woodland — American Guide Series: Pennsylvania

minute means extremely small in an absolute sense, usually on a microscopic or near-microscopic scale

mollusks drill minute holes in the shells through which they suck the oyster — American Guide Series: Florida

the minute and steady click of Mrs. Millington's needle — Walter de la Mare

miniature applies to what is complete but built, drawn, or made on a very small scale

a miniature shower of pink petals — Harriet La Barre

the park has a swimming pool for children, a miniature waterfall, and a small powerhouse and waterwheel — American Guide Series: Michigan

the child was a miniature version of the father

II. adverb

( -er/-est )

Etymology: Middle English smale, smal, from Old English smale, from smæl, adjective

1. : in or into small-sized pieces : fine

grate small

the meat served small on toast

2. obsolete : to a slight extent or degree : very little

3. : without force or loudness : faintly , timidly

you may speak as small as you will — Shakespeare

4. : in a small way, manner, or size : in miniature

5. : contemptuously , disdainfully

think small of one's neighbors

III. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English smal, from smal, adjective

1. : a part that is smaller and especially narrower than the remainder or than adjacent parts

the small of the back

especially : the posterior part of a whale between the vent and the flukes of the tail


a. smalls plural : small-sized products (as notions, bread, rolls, screws)

kept a good stock of smalls

b. smalls plural , chiefly Scotland : small portions : driblets

c. smalls plural , chiefly Britain

(1) : small articles of clothing (as underclothing) or household linen

(2) : smallclothes 1

d. : coal, ore, or ore-bearing rock that passes through small meshes of a specified size — usually used in plural

e. smalls plural , Britain : articles of freight under a specified weight (as 200 pounds) for carriage of which an extra charge or surtax is made

3. smalls plural , slang : responsions

- by small and small

IV. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English smalen, from smal, adjective

transitive verb

obsolete : to make small or less : lessen

intransitive verb

: to become small or less : diminish

the road smalls in the distance

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.