American English

Definition of small adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    (smaller, smallest)
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    not large
  1. 1not large in size, number, degree, amount, etc. a small house/town/car/man A much smaller number of students passed than I had expected. They're having a relatively small wedding. That dress is too small for you. “I don't agree,” he said in a small (= quiet) voice.
  2. 2(abbreviation S.) used to describe one size in a range of sizes of clothes, food, products used in the house, etc. small, medium, large This is too big—do you have a small one?
  3. 3not as big as something else of the same kind the small intestine
  4. young
  5. 4young They have three small children. We traveled around a lot when I was small. As a small boy he had spent most of his time with his grandparents.
  6. not important
  7. 5slight; not important I made only a few small changes to the report. She noticed several small errors in his work. Everything had been planned down to the smallest detail. It was no small achievement getting her to agree to the deal. Don't worry. It's only a small problem.
  8. business
  9. 6[usually before noun] not doing business on a very large scale a small farmer The government is planning to give more help to small businesses.
  10. letters
  11. 7[usually before noun] not written or printed as capitals Should I write “god”with a small“g” or a capital? She's a socialist with a small“s” (= she has socialist ideas but is not a member of a socialist party).
  12. not much
  13. 8[only before noun] (used with uncountable nouns) little; not much The government has small cause for optimism. They have small hope of succeeding.
    noun [uncountable]
  15. Idioms
    be grateful/thankful for small mercies
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    to be happy that a situation that is bad is not as bad as it could have been Well, at least you weren't hurt. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies.
    a big fish (in a small pond)
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    an important person (in a small community)
    don't sweat the small stuff (informal)
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    used to tell someone not to worry about small details or unimportant things
    great and small
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    of all sizes or types all creatures great and small
    in a big/small way
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    on a large/small scale The new delivery service has taken off in a big way. Many people are investing in a small way in the stock market.
    it's a small world (saying)
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    used to express your surprise when you meet someone you know in an unexpected place, or when you are talking to someone and find out that you both know the same person
    look/feel small
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    to look or feel stupid, weak, ashamed, etc. There's no need to make me look small in front of all these people. I felt really small when I realized how much time he'd spent on it.
    (it's) no/little/small wonder (that)…
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    it is not surprising It's no small wonder (that) she was so upset. (informal) No wonder you're tired, you've been walking for hours.
    the small/early hours (also the wee hours)
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    the period of time very early in the morning, soon after midnight We worked well into the small hours. The fighting began in the early hours of Saturday morning.
    a/the still small voice (literary)
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    the voice of God or your conscience, that tells you to do what is morally right
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: small