Language: Old English
Origin: smæl


1 adjective
Related topics: Letters and punctuation
small1 S1 W1 comparative smaller, superlative smallest


not large in size or amount:
a small piece of paper
a small car
a small town
a small dark woman
The T-shirt was too small for him.
The sweater comes in three sizes - small, medium and large.
Only a relatively small number of people were affected.
a small amount of money
A much smaller proportion of women are employed in senior positions.

not important

a small problem, job, mistake etc is not important or does not have a large effect [= minor]:
We may have to make a few small changes.
There's been a small problem.
There's only a small difference between them.
It was good to feel we had helped in some small way.

no small degree/achievement/task etc

a large degree, achievement etc:
The success of the project is due in no small measure to the work of Dr Peterson.
That is no small achievement in the circumstances.


a small child is young:
She has three small children.
I've known him since he was a small boy.

small business/firm/farmer etc

B a business that does not involve large amounts of money or does not employ a large number of people:
grants for small businesses


SLA small letters are letters in the form a, b, c etc rather than A, B, C etc [= lower case; ≠ capital]

conservative with a small 'c'/democrat with a small 'd' etc

informal someone who believes in the principles you have mentioned, but does not belong to an organized group or political party


a small voice is quiet and soft:
'What about me?' she asked in a small voice.

look/feel small

to seem or feel stupid, unimportant, or ashamed:
She jumped at any opportunity to make me look small.

(it's a) small world

especially spoken used to express surprise when you unexpectedly meet someone you know or find out that someone has an unexpected connection to you:
Did you know David went to school with my brother? It's a small world, isn't it?

a small fortune

a large amount of money
cost/spend/pay a small fortune
It must have cost him a small fortune.

small change

coins of low value:
I didn't have any small change for the parking meter.

be thankful/grateful for small mercies/favours

to be pleased that a bad situation is not even worse:
She wasn't too badly hurt, so we should be thankful for small mercies.

the small hours

also the wee small hours British English the early morning hours, between about one and four o'clock
in/into the small hours
He finally fell exhausted into bed in the small hours.
The party continued into the wee small hours.

small arms

guns that you hold with one or both hands when firing them

something is small potatoes

also something is small beer British English informal used to say that someone or something is not important, especially when compared to other people or things:
Even with £10,000 to invest, you are still small beer for most investment managers.
small adverb:
He writes so small I can't read it.
smallness noun [uncountable]

small, little
Small is a very general word for talking about the size of something a small village a small man He had small brown eyes. The envelope was too small. Do you have this shirt in a smaller size?Little is used, especially in spoken English, to show how you feel about someone or something small, for example to show that you like them, dislike them, or feel sorry for them What lovely little cakes! her horrid little dog!! You can say 'smaller' or 'smallest', but do not say 'littler' or 'littlest' Her feet are even smaller (NOT littler/more little) than mine.!! You can use words like 'quite', 'very' and 'too' in front of small, but do not use them with little a very small car (NOT very little car)

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