From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishldoce_730_zlittlelit‧tle1 /ˈlɪtl/ ●●●S1W1 adjective1sizeSMALL [usually before noun] small in sizea little housea cake decorated with little flowersShe was cutting the meat up into little bits.little tiny/tiny little spoken (=extremely small)a little tiny puppylittle bitty American English spoken (=extremely small)a little something informal (=a small present, or a small amount of food)I’d like to buy him a little something to thank him.► see thesaurus at small2SMALLsomething you like or dislike [only before noun] used between an adjective and a noun to emphasize that you like or dislike something or someone, although they are not important, impressive etcIt could be a nice little business.a useful little gadgetIt was another of her silly little jokes.a boring little manpoor little thing (=used to show sympathy)The poor little thing had hurt its wing.3 →a little bit4time/distanceNEARSHORT TIME [only before noun] short in time or distanceYou could have a little sleep in the car.We walked a little way along this path.He arrived a little while ago.5youngYOUNG little children are youngWe didn’t have toys like this when I was little.little boy/girltwo little boys playing in the streetsomebody’s little boy/girl (=someone’s son or daughter who is still a child)Mum, I’m 17 – I’m not your little girl any longer.somebody’s little brother/sister (=a younger brother or sister who is still a child)Her little brother and sister were fighting again.► see thesaurus at young6LITTLE/NOT VERYslight [only before noun] done in a way that is not very noticeablea little smileNicolo gave a little nod of his head.7unimportant [only before noun]a)LITTLE/NOT VERYnot importantShe gets very angry over little things.There isn’t time to discuss every little detail.b)IMPORTANTnot important – used when you really think that something is importantThere’s just that little matter of the £5,000 you owe me.8 →(just) that little bit better/easier etc9 →the little woman → a little bird told meat bird(4)GrammarOrder of adjectivesIf there is more than one adjective, the adjectives are usually used in a fixed order.You say: What a pretty little cottage!✗Don’t say: What a little pretty cottage!You say: I bought a little black bag.✗Don’t say: I bought a black little bag.ComparativesYou can say smaller or smallest, but ‘littler’ and ‘littlest’ are not often used. You say: Her feet are even smaller than mine.✗Don’t say: Her feet are even littler than mine. | Her feet are more little than mine.
Examples from the Corpus
little• I loved playing with blocks when I was little.• a poorlittlebird• Her little boy was Johnny, seven years old, dark-eyed and sweet.• What an annoyinglittle boy!• What a lovelylittledog!• She was only about seventeen, with the most beautifullittle face I had ever seen.• a littlefarm on the hill• I haven't seen one of those since I was a little girl.• They've been married for ten years and have two little girls.• The little Hoflin, who had her specialityshowpiece in Act Two, did it very badly and finally tripped and fell.• They bought a nicelittle house near the beach.• a nice little house• Todd's stupidlittlejokes• a littlelaugh• On the jetty near the littlelighthouse is a remarkably good restaurant.• Delicatelittle Louise, requiring round-the-clock, year-long, life-long protection.• There's just that little matter of the $5000 you owe me.• a littlenap• We saw a little old lady with a walking-stick.• There were three bridesmaids at the wedding, and even the little one behaved beautifully.• So this little one is a surprise.• a cutelittlepuppy• Where the Aztecs are is just a little short.• It's just a littlesouvenir I brought back from Italy• Oh, the poor little thing, he's hurt his paw.• Alice gets angry over little things.• He had climbed a little way up the tree and gotten scared.a little something• So I thought, a littlepush, a little shove, a little something extra to shake it loose.• Pawlowski knows a little something about horsepower.• Here's a little something from the girls in the office.• Well, I ate a little something in my room earlier.• Before that, and this should tell you a little something, it was not much more attractive for Stanford.• Can yet give us a little something now, Morreen.• This time aliens stop by for a visit and leave a little something, um, behind.• I always bring Maggie a little something when I come back from business trips.• Let me just tell you a little something!• Mrs Fanning also stood up and said she could stand to leave behind a little something.nice little• The suit he wore was fabulous - a sort of electricbluebraiding, a nice littlecabaret job.• Found me some water and made me a nice littlecrop.• That would be a nice littleearner for us.• These were the nice littlegestures that went with the setting.• What is more she doesn't want to leave her home, a nice little house that she inherited from her parents.• Oh, Gramps, she thought tiredly, what a nice littlelegacy you left your granddaughter.• But now I have Timmy, a nice little man and a grandcompanion.a little while• I now had some helpfulconnections in Warsaw, even if for only a little while.• It might take me a little while.• So he stays at Camelot for a little while.• He came down from Massachusetts for a little while and paid a call on Whitman in Brooklyn.• I waited a little while before I called back.• I adjusted my tie and buttoned up the coat which, a little while later, I would be unbuttoning.• And Gabby hoped he was right, as they took their seatsa little while later.• Just for a little whilelisten to me!• Stop by and learn a little while you enjoy the tunes.little boy/girl• I was a cleverlittle girl.• She saw herself as such a jollylittle girl.• As after all I was not a bad little boy but I was shy and covered it up by bravado.• You will interfere with my responsibilities regarding this very lost little boy only at supremehazard to yourself.• Maria Luisa isn't the gulliblelittle girl she was last year in Seville.• Nobody pushed little boys to play sports if they preferred to cook instead; nobody mocked little girls who collectedspiders.• I encouraged a little boy to write the makers of his favoritemustard, telling them about his delight in their product.• He persisted, and discovered that the little boy was called Grégoire.littlelittle2 ●●●S1W1 determiner, pronoun1LITTLE/NOT MUCHonly a small amount or hardly any of somethingThere’s little doubt in my mind that he’s guilty.I paid little attention to what the others were saying.Little is known about the causes of the problem.Changes in the law have done little to improve the situation.little ofLittle of their wealth now remains.There’s very little money left.Many of the students speak little or no English.He knew little or nothing (=almost nothing) about fixing cars.My lawyer advised me to say as little as possible.He did precious little (=very little) to help.The laboratory tests are of little real value.2 →a little3 →as little as £5/3 months/10 feet etc4 →what little5 →a little (of something) goes a long wayGRAMMAR: Comparisona little• A little means ‘some, but not a lot’.• You use a little before uncountable nouns: We still have a little time left.• You can say a little of the: A little of the milk got spilled.✗Don’t say: A little of milk got spilled.little• Little is mainly used in more formal English. It means ‘not much’ and emphasizes how small an amount is. • You use little before uncountable nouns: There is little chance of success.• You can say very little: He has very little money.• In everyday English, people usually say not much instead: There is not much chance of success.He does not have much money.
Examples from the Corpus
very little• We drink only occasionally, and even then very little.• The rich supposedly think otherwise -- and manage to pay very little.• Considering they work so hard they're paid very little.• A younger person marrying and taking on a teenage family may know very little about adolescents.• The soup is made with lots of vegetables but very littlechicken.• Changing the law will make very littledifference.• In some places, we find very littledistinction between male and female.• Supplying that, they have time for very little else.• I had very littleenergy left.• Fish contains very littlefat.• "How much do you know about computers?" "Very little, I'm afraid."• There was no ink in the bottle and very little left in the pen.• Even with the few remainingassets, there is very littlemargin to work on.• When Maria lost her job she had very little money in savings.• A white spot on a yellowmodelgatheredvery little more response.• From that moment on I saw very little of Dean, and I was a little sorry too.• He ate very little of the food we had given him.• He spends very little on food.• It makes very little sense for companies to maintain large inventories these days.• Kendall's condition has improvedvery little since last week.• There is very littleslack built into the system and usually not much tolerance for errors.• The area has a lot of deer, but very little water and not much open space.littlelittle3 ●●●S1W1 adverb1 →a little2LITTLE/NOT MUCHnot much or only slightlyThe town has changed little over the years.The situation has improved very little.little known/understood etc (=not known about by many people)a little known corner of the worldlittle more/better etc (than something)His voice was little more than a whisper.3 →little did somebody know/realize/think etc4 →little by little5 →more than a little/not a littleGRAMMAR: Word orderYou use a little before an adjective: I was a little worried about her.✗Don’t say: I was worried a little about her.
Examples from the Corpus
little• Harrison felt littleinclined to confide in Berthoud.• The 4. 3 cents were littlenoticed when they were added, and will be little noticed if removed.• The pattern of life here has changed little since I was a boy.very little• The rich supposedly think otherwise -- and manage to pay very little.• A younger person marrying and taking on a teenage family may know very little about adolescents.• In some places, we find very little distinction between male and female.• Supplying that, they have time for very little else.• Even with the few remaining assets, there is very little margin to work on.• A white spot on a yellow model gathered very little more response.• From that moment on I saw very little of Dean, and I was a little sorry too.• There is very little slack built into the system and usually not much tolerance for errors.