Meaning of “low” in the English Dictionary

"low" in British English

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lowadjective

uk /ləʊ/ us /loʊ/

low adjective (NOT HIGH)

B1 not measuring much from the base to the top:

a low fence

B1 close to the ground or the bottom of something:

a low ceiling
When we went skiing, I only went on the lower slopes.

More examples

  • High vehicles must take an alternative route because of low clearance under the bridge.
  • The boundary of the car park is delineated by a low brick wall.
  • That new shelf in the bathroom is too low - I just hit my head on it.
  • We could see a low range of hills in the distance.

low adjective (LEVEL)

A2 below the usual level:

Temperatures are very low for the time of year.
The big supermarket offers the lowest prices in town.
These people are living on relatively low incomes.
There is a tremendous need for more low-cost housing.
a low-fat diet
Vegetables are generally low in (= do not contain many) calories.

A2 producing only a small amount of sound, heat, or light:

They spoke in low voices so I would not hear what they were saying.
Turn the oven to a low heat.
Soft music was playing and the lights were low.

B2 of bad quality, especially when referring to something that is not as good as it should be:

I have a very low opinion of him.
She has very low self-esteem.

More examples

  • No-one can be expected to exist on such a low salary.
  • Cover the fish with aluminium foil and cook over a low heat.
  • I have a rather low opinion of my sister's boyfriend .
  • We thought they were asking a very low price.
  • The success rate for this operation is very low.

Thesaurus: synonyms and related words

lowadverb

uk /ləʊ/ us /loʊ/

lowverb [ I ]

uk /ləʊ/ us /loʊ/ literary

lownoun

uk /ləʊ/ us /loʊ/

(Definition of “low” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"low" in American English

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lowadjective, adverb [ -er/-est only ]

us /loʊ/

low adjective, adverb [ -er/-est only ] (NOT HIGH)

not high or tall; close to the ground, or near the bottom of something:

Until I’m a better skier, I’ll stay on the lower slopes.
That plane is flying awfully low.

low adjective, adverb [ -er/-est only ] (SMALLER THAN USUAL)

smaller than the usual or average size, number, value, or amount:

They have the lowest food prices in town.
Temperatures will dip lower near the end of the week.
Believe it or not, this dessert is low in calories.

If a supply of something becomes low, you have very little of it left:

We’re running low on gas.

Low can also mean producing only a small amount of sound, heat, or light:

They spoke in low voices.
She turned the heat down low.

Low can also mean of bad quality:

My test results were disappointingly low.

lowadjective

us /loʊ/

low adjective (NOT IMPORTANT)

[ -er/-est only ] not important, or not of high rank:

low adjective (SOUND)

(of a sound or voice) near or at the bottom of the range of sounds:

a low voice/note
low-pitched

If a sound is low-pitched, it is at the bottom of the range of sounds:

He gave a low-pitched whistle and his dog came running.

low adjective (NOT KIND)

(of behavior or speech) mean or unfair:

What a cruel comment – how low can you get?

low adjective (UNHAPPY)

[ -er/-est only ] unhappy or discouraged:

She’s feeling pretty low because she failed her driver’s test.

lownoun [ C ]

us /loʊ/

low noun [ C ] (SMALLER THAN USUAL)

a smaller than usual amount or level, or the smallest amount or level:

Enrollment at the college reached new lows this fall.
The temperature in Boston reached a record low last night.

(Definition of “low” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"low" in Business English

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lowadjective

uk /ləʊ/ us

below the usual or expected level or amount:

The offer was rejected on the grounds that it was too low.
low inflation/interest rates/taxes The housing boom coincided with a flat economy, low inflation, and a falling stock market.
Interest rates fell to their lowest level since records began in January 1975.
low prices/costs/fees Higher profits and lower prices lift demand and keep inflation in check.
Developers are focusing on building more affordable housing targeted at families on low incomes.
These dedicated staff put up with long hours and low pay, because they love the job.
low unemployment/crime Unemployment in the region is lower than the national average.

not very good or acceptable:

low quality/standards Attempts at voluntary regulation had failed because too many companies with low standards had not joined the system.

not important because of being at the bottom of a range or group of things:

Transport was a low priority for the new administration.
More flexible working conditions are changing the traditionally low status of part-time jobs.
be/get/run low (on sth)

to have very little of something left:

Gas stations were running low on supplies due to the blockade.
This symbol means the printer ink is getting low.

lowadverb

uk /ləʊ/ us

at a level which is less than usual or expected:

Working from home and communicating online helped them keep costs low while they were setting up their new business.

at or to a position of less importance:

Ethics training ranks low on the manager's priority list.

lownoun [ C ]

uk /ləʊ/ us

the lowest level that something has reached since it has been measured or during a particular period:

hit/fall to a low The company's stock fell to a six-month low.
a new/record/all-time low The dollar hit a record low against the euro and was down sharply against the Japanese yen.
The price of oil has nearly doubled from last year's lows.
Compare

See also

(Definition of “low” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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