Language: Old English
Origin: scort


1 adjective
short1 S1 W1 comparative shorter, superlative shortest


happening or continuing for only a little time or for less time than usual [≠ 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.


measuring a small amount in length or distance [≠ 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.

not tall

someone who is short is not as tall as most people [≠ tall]:
a short plump woman
Chris was short and stocky, with broad shoulders.
He's a bit shorter than me.


a book, letter etc that is short does not have many words or pages [≠ long]:
a short novel
I wrote a short note to explain.
short story

not enough

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.

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.

less than

a little less than a number
short of
Her time was only 2 seconds short of the world record.
just/a little short of something
She was just short of six feet tall.

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 BrE on short notice American English
The party was arranged at short notice.

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.

have a short memory

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

be short for something

to be a shorter way of saying a name:
Her name is Alex, short for Alexandra.

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.

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.

have a short temper/fuse

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

in short order

formal in a short time and without delay

give somebody short measure

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


technicalSL a short vowel is pronounced quickly without being emphasized, for example the sound of a in 'cat', e in 'bet', and i in 'bit' [≠ 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)
speech/piece of writing: brief, concise, condensed, abridged

person: not very tall, little, tiny, petite

time/event: brief, quick, momentary, fleeting, ephemeral, transient, passing, short-lived

legs/fingers: stumpy, stubby

clothes: skimpy