little Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “little” in the English Dictionary

"little" in British English

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littleadjective

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 ​smallamount 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 ​greatvalue: 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 ​yourhair was really ​curly. She was my little (= ​younger)sister and I took ​care of her. Her little ​boy (= her ​youngson) 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 ​shortdiscussion about something not very ​important) with you?

littledeterminer

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 ​smallamount of something: This ​sauceneeds a little ​salt. With a little ​training she could do very well. Can I give you a little ​advice?

littlepronoun, noun

uk   /ˈlɪt.l̩/  us   /ˈlɪt̬-/
  • little pronoun, noun (SMALL AMOUNT)

B1 [S] a ​smallamount: I could only ​hear a little of what they were saying. He does as little as ​possible at ​work. There's not much ​flourleft 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 ​poorestpeople in this ​country. The little we do ​know about the ​people who ​lived here ​suggests they had a very ​sophisticatedsociety.

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littleadverb

uk   /ˈlɪt.l̩/  us   /ˈlɪt̬-/
  • little adverb (SMALL AMOUNT)

a little (bit)

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A2 slightly: I was a little ​bitworried 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 Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"little" in American English

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littleadjective

 us   /ˈlɪt̬·əl/
  • little adjective (SMALL)

[-er/-est only] small in ​size or ​amount, or ​brief in ​time: She has a little ​room on the ​topfloor where she ​works on her ​computer. They have very little ​money. It’ll take me a little while ​longer to get ​ready. [-er/-est only] Little can be used with ​approving words for ​emphasis: They have a ​nice little ​house.
  • little adjective (YOUNG)

[-er/-est only] young: When you were little, you and ​yourbrother were always ​fighting. My little ​brother/​sister (= ​youngerbrother or ​sister) is seven ​yearsold. He ​stayedhome from ​work today because his little ​boy/​girl (= ​youngson or ​daughter) is ​sick.
  • little adjective (NOT IMPORTANT)

[not gradable] not ​important or not ​serious: I had a little ​problem with my ​car, but it’s ​fixed now.

littleadverb

 us   /ˈlɪt̬·əl/ (comparative less  /les/ , superlative least  /list/ )
  • little adverb (NOT MUCH)

not much: The ​county has done little to ​improve the ​trafficproblem. It’s a little-known ​fact that ​technicallyticks are not ​insects.a little A little ​meansslightly: She was a little ​frightened. You’re ​walking a little too ​fast for me.

littlepronoun, noun [U]

 us   /ˈlɪt̬·əl/
  • little pronoun, noun [U] (SMALL)

a ​smallamount: I could ​understand very little of what he said.a little A little ​means a ​smallamount of something: "Do we have any ​sugarleft?" "A little."
(Definition of little from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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