Meaning of “small” in the English Dictionary

"small" in English

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uk /smɔːl/ us /smɑːl/

small adjective (LITTLE)

A1 little in size or amount when compared with what is typical or average:

I'd rather live in a small town than a big city.
Would you like a large or small cola with your burger?
Ella is the smallest girl in her class.
That jacket's too small for you.
He's small for his age.
Only a small number of applicants are successful.
The number of women in parliament is pitifully (= extremely) small.
Liqueurs are usually drunk in small quantities.

More examples

small adjective (LIMITED ACTIVITY)

[ before noun ] limited in the amount of an activity:

The government should give more help to small businessmen (= people whose businesses are of a limited size).
Chris is a small eater so he won't want much.
If you can help us in a small way (= to a limited degree) it would be greatly appreciated.
noun [ U ] uk /ˈsmɔːl.nəs/ us /ˈsmɑːl.nəs/

The smallness of the city often surprises first-time visitors.


uk /smɔːl/ us /smɑːl/


uk /smɔːl/ us /smɑːl/

small noun (BODY)

the small of your back

the middle of the lower back:

I have a pain in the small of my back.

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

"small" in American English

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us /smɔl/

small adjective (LESS)

[ -er/-est only ] not big; less in size or amount than is average:

a small business
small lunches
He’s small for his age.
Those jackets come in small, medium, and large sizes.

[ -er/-est only ] Small abbreviation S is a size of clothing or other product that is smaller than average:

Those sweaters are available in small, medium, and large (sizes).
small of your back

The small of your back is the back below the waist where it curves in slightly.

small adjective (YOUNG)

[ -er/-est only ] (of children) very young:

His mother died when he was small.

small adjective (LACKING IMPORTANCE)

[ -er/-est only ] not having much importance or effect:

a small problem
a small part in a movie

small adjective (LETTER SIZE)

[ not gradable ] (of a letter of the alphabet) lowercase


smalladverb [ -er/-est only ]

us /smɔl/

small adverb [ -er/-est only ] (IN SMALL SIZE)

in small pieces, or in a size or amount that is less than average:

The ingredients are printed so small I can hardly read them.

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

"small" in Business English

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uk /smɔːl/ us

limited in size, amount, activity, etc.:

Loans help small firms fund training.
The company made a small profit last year.

not very important or likely to cause problems:

Verna said the review team would not mire itself in such small details.
In the construction industry, small mistakes can become multi-million dollar problems.

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