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English definition of “little”

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little

adjective uk   /ˈlɪt.l̩/ us    /ˈlɪt̬-/

little adjective (SMALL)

A1 small in size or amount: It came in a little box. a little dog/nose/room A little old man came into the room. He gave a little smile. It'll only take a little while to clear up the kitchen.a little something a small amount of food or drink: I always like to have a little something around eleven o'clock in the morning. a present that is not of great value: I want to buy a little something to give to Val when I visit her in hospital.
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little adjective (YOUNG)

A1 young: When you were little your hair was really curly. She was my little (= younger) sister and I took care of her. Her little boy (= her young son) isn't well.
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little adjective (EMPHASIZE)

B2 [before noun] used to emphasize an opinion that is being given about something or someone: That was a nice little suit she was wearing. It's not a bad little restaurant, is it? He's a nasty little man.
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little adjective (UNIMPORTANT)

B1 [before noun] not very important or serious: I had a little problem with my car, but it's been fixed now. It's often the little things that count the most. Can I have a little word (= a short discussion about something not very important) with you?

little

determiner uk   /ˈlɪt.l̩/ us    /ˈlɪt̬-/

little determiner (NOT ENOUGH)

B1 not much or enough: There seems little hope of a ceasefire. They have very little money. There's so little choice.
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little determiner (SMALL AMOUNT)

a little B1 a small amount of something: This sauce needs a little salt. With a little training she could do very well. Can I give you a little advice?

little

pronoun, noun uk   /ˈlɪt.l̩/ us    /ˈlɪt̬-/

little pronoun, noun (SMALL AMOUNT)

B1 [S] a small amount: I could only hear a little of what they were saying. He does as little as possible at work. There's not much flour left but you're welcome to the/what little there is.
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  • We ate a little of the bread.
  • He gave us a little of his money.
  • I already knew a little of what he had to say.
  • She eats as little as she can.
  • You can see what little I have.

little pronoun, noun (NOT ENOUGH)

B1 an amount that is not much or not enough: We did very little on Sunday. Very little of what he said made any sense to me. Unfortunately, little of the artist's work has survived. The government has done little or nothing to help the poorest people in this country. The little we do know about the people who lived here suggests they had a very sophisticated society.
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little

adverb uk   /ˈlɪt.l̩/ us    /ˈlɪt̬-/

little adverb (SMALL AMOUNT)

a little (bit)
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A2 slightly: I was a little bit worried by what she said. We'll wait a little longer and then I'll phone them. There's only a little further to go.
little by little B2 slowly or gradually: Little by little she came to understand why he had behaved the way he did.

little adverb (NOT MUCH)

C1 not much: She slept very little that night. a little-known fact Little did he know what lay in store for him.little more/better C2 not much more or better: The wine they gave us was little better than vinegar.
(Definition of little from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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