from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Being below average in size.
  • adjective Being below average in quantity or extent.
  • adjective Limited in importance or significance; trivial.
  • adjective Having limited position, influence, or status; minor.
  • adjective Unpretentious; modest.
  • adjective Not fully grown; very young.
  • adjective Narrow in outlook; petty.
  • adjective Having been belittled; humiliated.
  • adjective Diluted; weak. Used of alcoholic beverages.
  • adjective Lacking force or volume.
  • adjective Lowercase.
  • adverb In small pieces.
  • adverb Without loudness or forcefulness; softly.
  • adverb In a small manner.
  • noun A part that is smaller or narrower than the rest.
  • noun Small things considered as a group.
  • noun Chiefly British Small items of clothing.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In a small quantity or degree; little.
  • Low; in low tones; gently; timidly; also, in a shrill or high key.
  • To make little or less; lessen.
  • Slender; thin; narrow.
  • Little in size; not great or large; of less than average or ordinary dimensions; diminutive.
  • Little or inferior in degree, quantity, amount, duration, number, value, etc.; short (in time or extent); narrow, etc.
  • Low, as applied to station, social position, etc.
  • Being of little moment, weight, or importance; trivial; insignificant; petty; trifling: as, it is a small matter or thing; a small subject.
  • Of little genius, ability, or force of character; petty; insignificant.
  • Containing little of the principal quality, or little strength; weak: as, small beer.
  • Thin: applied to tones or to the voice.
  • Gentle; soft; faint; not loud.
  • Characterized by littleness of mind or character; evincing little worth; narrow-minded; sordid; selfish; ungenerous; mean; base; unworthy.
  • Having little property; carrying on a business on a small scale.
  • Meager in quantity, as a body of water: an anglers' epithet: as, the water is too small to use the fly.
  • Noting the condition of the cutting edge of a saw as condensed by hammering: same as tight.
  • Unostentatiously; without pretension.
  • Synonyms Smaller, Fewer (see less), tiny, puny, stunted, Lilliputian, minute.
  • Inconsiderable, unimportant, slender, scanty, moderate, paltry, slight, feeble.
  • Shallow. See pettiness.
  • Illiberal, stingy, scrimping.
  • noun A small thing or quantity; also, the small or slender part of a thing: as, the small of the leg or of the back; specifically, the smallest part of the trunk of a whale; the tapering part toward, near, or at the base of the flukes.
  • noun plural Same as small-clothes.
  • noun plural The “little go,” or previous examination: as, to be plucked for smalls.
  • noun plural In coal-mining, same as small coal (see above).
  • noun plural In metal-mining, ore mixed with gangue in particles of small size: a term used with various shades of meaning in certain districts of England.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The small or slender part of a thing.
  • noun colloq. Smallclothes.
  • noun Same as Little go. See under Little, a.
  • adjective Having little size, compared with other things of the same kind; little in quantity or degree; diminutive; not large or extended in dimension; not great; not much; inconsiderable.
  • adjective Being of slight consequence; feeble in influence or importance; unimportant; trivial; insignificant.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English smal, from Old English smæl.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English smal, from Old English smæl ("small, narrow, slender"), from Proto-Germanic *smalaz (“small”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)mal-, *(s)mel- (“small, mean, malicious”). Cognate with Scots smal; sma ("small"); West Frisian smel ("narrow"); Dutch smal ("narrow"); German schmal ("narrow, small"); Danish, Norwegian, Swedish små ("small"); Latin malus ("bad"); Russian малый (mályj, "small").


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  •   Happy memories include, the small small bed that Rick had when we met…. it was small…. it was great…., the lack of hangers, the big screen TV that took my mind off of the past a lot of nights, the hamburgers and cheese and crazy nights of eating dinner at midnight…. it was like being in college… never alone… and much activity.

    PoeticaL trulypoetic 2005

  • To form them use two very small coffeespoons or eggspoons, as the quenelles should not be larger than _small_ olives; butter the spoons slightly, and when formed drop each for one or two minutes into boiling pale-colored stock.

    Choice Cookery Catherine Owen

  • Children should be fed carefully, and but a small quantity at a time, being particular both for adults and children to use as little _liquid_ as possible; drink water in _small_ quantities, not very cold.

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  • A small tree recognized by its _small round reddish brown buds_ and

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  • _Caution_: If the patient is an infant or small child, blow _small puffs_ of air into him about 20 times a minute.

    In Time of Emergency A Citizen's Handbook on Nuclear Attack, Natural Disasters (1968) United States. Office of Civil Defense

  • If, therefore, I wish to say “the small fires in the house”—and I can do this in one word—I must form the word “fire-in-the-house, ” to which elements corresponding to “small, ” our plural, and “the” are appended.

    Chapter 5. Form in Language: Grammatical Concepts 1921

  • First he gathered a few small twigs and made a _very small_ fire.

    Detailed Minutiae of Soldier life in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861-1865 Carlton McCarthy 1872

  • The covers were removed -- two small soles (much _too small_ for three people), and a dish of potatoes.

    The King's Own Frederick Marryat 1820

  • He prefers the term "small unmanned aircraft" to describe the two units his department is buying.

    The Law's New Eye in the Sky Ana Campoy 2011

  • But the Brewers don't particularly like the term "small market," and don't use it as a crutch. rss feed 2011

  • I am what many in the fat activism community call “small fat,” meaning I am technically larger than what society deems the acceptable body size, but I am not as fat as many others.

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  • In my household, we refer to the pocket-pets (rodents) this way. To differentiate from our "medium", which is the cat, and the "larges", who are us. A feral house-mouse is, then, similarly small, little or, better tiny; and insects are tiny or wee. If we had a ferret, I suspect it would be smallish or not-quite-medium. I likewise suspect a standard dog would be larger or largish.

    December 15, 2006

  • "But we should understand that for many ideas enabled by the Internet, small is the new big." -- January 3, 2008, 3:45 pm

    Twitter, Firefox and Big Ideas That Are Small Companies

    By Saul Hansell

    NY TIMES Tags: Business Models, firefox, microblogging, Mozilla, twitter

    February 6, 2008