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[smawl] /smɔl/
adjective, smaller, smallest.
of limited size; of comparatively restricted dimensions; not big; little:
a small box.
slender, thin, or narrow:
a small waist.
not large as compared with others of the same kind:
a small elephant.
(of letters) lower-case (def 1).
not great in amount, degree, extent, duration, value, etc.:
a small salary.
not great numerically:
a small army.
of low numerical value; denoted by a low number.
having but little land, capital, power, influence, etc., or carrying on business or some activity on a limited scale:
a small enterprise.
of minor importance, moment, weight, or consequence:
a small problem.
humble, modest, or unpretentious:
small circumstances.
characterized by or indicative of littleness of mind or character; mean-spirited; petty:
a small, miserly man.
of little strength or force:
a small effort.
(of sound or the voice) gentle; with little volume.
very young:
when I was a small boy.
diluted; weak.
adverb, smaller, smallest.
in a small manner:
They talked big but lived small.
into small pieces:
Slice the cake small.
in low tones; softly.
something that is small:
Do you prefer the small or the large?
a small or narrow part, as of the back.
those who are small:
Democracy benefits the great and the small.
smalls, small goods or products.
smalls, British.
  1. underclothes.
  2. household linen, as napkins, pillowcases, etc.
smalls, British Informal. the responsions at Oxford University.
smalls, Mining. coal, ore, gangue, etc., in fine particles.
feel small, to be ashamed or mortified:
Her unselfishness made me feel small.
Origin of small
before 900; Middle English smale (adj., noun, and adv.), Old English smæl; cognate with Dutch smal, German schmal
Related forms
smallness, noun
ultrasmall, adjective
1. tiny. See little. 2. slight. 1, 3, 5. Smaller, less indicate a diminution, or not so large a size or quantity in some respect. Smaller, as applied to concrete objects, is used with reference to size: smaller apples. Less is used of material in bulk, with reference to amount, and in cases where attributes such as value and degree are in question: A nickel is less than a dime (in value). A sergeant is less than a lieutenant (in rank). As an abstraction, amount may be either smaller or less, though smaller is usually used when the idea of size is suggested: a smaller opportunity. Less is used when the idea of quantity is present: less courage. 9. trifling, petty, unimportant, minor, secondary, nugatory, inconsequential, paltry, insignificant. 11. small-minded, narrow-minded, mean, selfish, narrow. 12. feeble.
1. large, big. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for small
  • Due to their small size a whole colony can inhabit one hollow acorn.
  • Many small-business owners report a sense of isolation.
  • Since incubators have been so much used for hatching chickens, small birds suitable for broiling may be always found in market.
  • No beginnings of things however small are to be neglected because continuance makes them great.
  • Debt hath a small beginning but a giant's growth and strength.
  • She brought out of a corner split sticks and dry branches, broke them up, and placed them under the small kettle.
  • The next morning she stated that she had dreamt that the bed was much too small for her, so that she could find no place in it.
  • The long, irregular-shaped pieces may be rolled, and fastened with small wooden skewers.
  • Cut some of the fat in small pieces and try out in frying-pan.
  • Make a cut at small end of each cutlet, and insert in each the tip end of a small claw.
British Dictionary definitions for small


comparatively little; limited in size, number, importance, etc
of little importance or on a minor scale: a small business
lacking in moral or mental breadth or depth: a small mind
modest or humble: small beginnings
of low or inferior status, esp socially
(of a child or animal) young; not mature
unimportant, trivial: a small matter
not outstanding: a small actor
of, relating to, or designating the ordinary modern minuscule letter used in printing and cursive writing Compare capital1 (sense 13) See also lower case
lacking great strength or force: a small effort
in fine particles: small gravel
(obsolete) (of beer, etc) of low alcoholic strength
into small pieces: you have to cut it small
in a small or soft manner
feel small, to be humiliated or inferior
the small, an object, person, or group considered to be small: do you want the small or the large?
a small slender part, esp of the back
(pl) (informal, mainly Brit) items of personal laundry, such as underwear
Derived Forms
smallish, adjective
smallness, noun
Word Origin
Old English smæl; related to Old High German smal, Old Norse smali small cattle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for small

Old English smæl "thin, slender, narrow; fine," from Proto-Germanic *smal- "small animal; small" (cf. Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Middle Dutch, Dutch, Old High German smal, Old Frisian smel, German schmal "narrow, slender," Gothic smalista "smallest," Old Norse smali "small cattle, sheep"), perhaps from a PIE root *(s)melo- "smaller animal" (cf. Greek melon, Old Irish mil "a small animal;" Old Church Slavonic malu "bad"). Original sense of "narrow" now almost obsolete, except in reference to waistline and intestines.

My sister ... is as white as a lilly, and as small as a wand. [Shakespeare, "Two Gentlemen of Verona," 1591]
Sense of "not large, of little size" developed in Old English. Of children, "young," from mid-13c. Meaning "inferior in degree or amount" is from late 13c. Meaning "trivial, unimportant" is from mid-14c. Sense of "having little property or trade" is from 1746. That of "characterized by littleness of mind or spirit, base, low, mean" is from 1824. As an adverb by late 14c.

Small fry, first recorded 1690s of little fish, 1885 of insignificant people. Small potatoes "no great matter" first attested 1924; small change "something of little value" is from 1902; small talk "chit-chat, trifling conversation" (1751) first recorded in Chesterfield's "Letters." Small world as a comment upon an unexpected meeting of acquaintances is recorded from 1895. Small-arms, indicating those capable of being carried in the hand (contrasted to ordnance) is recorded from 1710.


early 13c., "small person or animal," from small (adj.). From c.1300 as "persons of low rank" (opposed to great); late 15c. as "the small part" of something (e.g. small of the back, 1530s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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small in Technology

1. Functional, lazy, untyped.
["SMALL - A Small Interactive Functional System", L. Augustsson, TR 28, U Goteborg and Chalmers U, 1986].
2. A toy language used to illustrate denotational semantics.
["The Denotational Description of Programming Languages", M.J.C. Gordon, Springer 1979].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with small
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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