verb (used with object)
to make short or shorter.
to reduce, decrease, take in, etc.: to shorten sail.
to make (pastry, bread, etc.) short, as with butter or other fat.
Sports. choke ( def 8 ).
verb (used without object)
to become short or shorter.
(of odds) to decrease.

1505–15; short + -en1

shortener, noun
overshorten, verb
preshorten, verb (used with object)
reshorten, verb
undershorten, verb (used with object)
unshorten, adjective

1. condense, lessen, limit, restrict. Shorten, abbreviate, abridge, curtail mean to make shorter or briefer. Shorten is a general word meaning to make less in extent or duration: to shorten a dress, a prisoner's sentence. The other three terms suggest methods of shortening. To abbreviate is to make shorter by omission or contraction: to abbreviate a word. To abridge is to reduce in length or size by condensing, summarizing, and the like: to abridge a document. Curtail suggests deprivation and lack of completeness because of omitting some part: to curtail an explanation. 5. contract, lessen. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
shorten (ˈʃɔːtən)
1.  to make or become short or shorter
2.  (tr) nautical to reduce the area of (sail)
3.  (tr) to make (pastry, bread, etc) short, by adding butter or another fat
4.  gambling to cause (the odds) to lessen or (of odds) to become less

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1510s, from short (adj.); the earlier form of the verb was simply short, from O.E. sceortian "to grow short," gescyrtan "to make short."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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