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small time

noun, (in vaudeville)
a circuit of minor theaters giving three or more shows daily.
Origin of small time
1920-25, Americanism


[smawl-tahym] /ˈsmɔlˈtaɪm/
of modest or insignificant size, importance, or influence:
a small-time politician.
Related forms
small-timer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for small time
  • Those are small time commitments, but they're incredibly important.
  • Nor small time hoodlums guns, if they don't have connections with a larger cartel.
  • Notice the one of the main way for them to arrest small time drug users is threw a traffic stop.
  • The effect is to hand control of development to a commission made up almost exclusively of small time architects.
  • Because of the mesh singularities at the poles, an unrealistically small time-step is dictated for numerical stability.
  • They consider platoons of vehicles and simulate traffic flow in small time increments.
  • Don't try to cram lots of information into a small time frame, don't try to be efficient.
British Dictionary definitions for small time


(informal) insignificant; minor: a small-time criminal
Derived Forms
small-timer, noun
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 time



1910, originally theater slang for lower-salaried circuits, or ones requiring more daily performances; from noun phrase (also 1910). Cf. big time.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for small time

small print, the

noun phrase

Unsuspected and possibly injurious conditions or requirements, esp when part of a contract, an insurance policy, etc: Be sure you look at the small print if you make any deals with that guy/ Does the mayor read the fine print? (entry form 1944+, variant 1960+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with small time

small time

A modest or minor level of achievement, as in Her success took her out of the small time to prime-time television. This expression was originally used in vaudeville for second-rate theaters and productions. [ Early 1900s ]
Also see: big time, def. 2.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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