- 1 measuring or covering a great length or distance, or a greater length or distance than usual She had long dark hair. He walked down the long corridor. It was the world's longest bridge. a long journey/walk/drive/flight We're a long way from anywhere here. It's a long way away. opposite short
- 2 used for asking or talking about particular lengths or distances How long is the River Nile? The table is six feet long. The report is only three pages long. time
- 3 lasting or taking a great amount of time or more time than usual He’s been ill (for) a long time. There was a long silence before she spoke. I like it now the days are getting longer (= it stays light for more time each day). a long book/film/list (= taking a lot of time to read/watch/deal with) Nurses have to work long hours (= for more hours in the day than is usual). (North American English) He stared at them for the longest time (= for a very long time) before answering. Which Word?(for) long / (for) a long time Both (for) long and (for) a long time are used as expressions of time. In positive sentences (for) a long time is used:We’ve been friends a long time. (For) long is not used in positive sentences unless it is used with too, enough, as, so, seldom, etc:I stayed out in the sun for too long. You’ve been waiting long enough. Both (for) long and (for) a long time can be used in questions, but (for) long is usually preferred:Have you been waiting long? In negative sentences (for) a long time sometimes has a different meaning from (for) long. Compare:I haven’t been here for a long time (= It is a long time since the last time I was here) and I haven’t been here long (= I arrived here only a short time ago). opposite short
- 4 used for asking or talking about particular periods of time How long is the course? I think it's only three weeks long. How long a stay did you have in mind?
- 5 seeming to last or take more time than it really does because, for example, you are very busy or not happy I'm tired. It's been a long day. We were married for ten long years. opposite short clothes
- 6 covering all or most of your legs or arms She usually wears long skirts. a long-sleeved shirt opposite short vowel sounds
- 7 (phonetics) taking more time to make than a short vowel sound in the same position opposite short Word Familylong adjective adverblength nounlengthy adjectivelengthen verb Word Originadjective Old English lang, long (adjective), lange, longe (adverb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German lang.Extra examples At 900 pages, the book is overly long. Economy class can be uncomfortable for those with extra-long legs. His drive to work is fairly long. My hair had grown long. That dress looks a bit long to me. a pair of impossibly long legs an unusually long pause He let out a long slow breath. How long is the film? I haven’t seen him for a long time. I think it’s only about two hours long. I’m tired. It’s been a long day. It took me a long time to accept the situation. Nurses have to work long hours. a long book/film/list a long corridor/bridge long hairIdioms (informal) very long There's a list of repairs as long as your arm. not longer than the particular time given It will take an hour at the longest. after a long time synonym finally At long last his prayers had been answered. by a great amount He was the best by a long way. (of two or more people) to have known each other for a long time We go back a long way, he and I. (of money, food, etc.) to last a long time She seems to make her money go a long way. A small amount of this paint goes a long way (= covers a large area). (ironic) I find that a little of Jerry's company can go a long way (= I quickly get tired of being with him). to help very much/a little in achieving something The new law goes a long way towards solving the problem. to have made a lot of progress We've come a long way since the early days of the project. to need to make a lot of progress before you can achieve something She still has a long way to go before she's fully fit. (British English, informal) used to say that there is no definite answer to a question ‘How long will it take?’ ‘How long's a piece of string?’ concerning a longer period in the future This measure inevitably means higher taxes in the long run. used to describe what will happen a long, short, etc. time in the future Such a development seems unlikely, at least in the short term (= it will not happen for quite a long time). In the longer term, children of depressed mothers are more likely to suffer from childhood depression. (British English, informal) it makes no real difference which of two possible choices you make (informal) used to say that the reasons for something are complicated and you would prefer not to give all the details (British English) to reject, remove or stop dealing with a problem He tends to deal with disputes by kicking them into the long grass. used when you are telling somebody the essential facts about something or what effect it will have, without explaining all the details the power and/or authority of something There is no escape from the long arm of the law. (to have) an unhappy or disappointed expression He took one look at her long face and said ‘What’s wrong?’ See related entries: Unhappiness (humorous, especially British English) old or too old This originally referred to the fact that a horse’s teeth appear to be longer as it grows older, because its gums shrink. (informal) having a lot of a particular quality The government is long on ideas but short on performance. an attempt or a guess that is not likely to be successful but is worth trying It's a long shot, but it just might work. (informal) used to say hello to somebody you have not seen for a long time
not nearly; not at all It's not over yet—not by a long chalk. to consider a problem or possibility very carefully and without hurrying We need to take a long hard look at all the options. to consider what is likely to happen or be important over a long period of time rather than only considering the present situation As pension funds are investing for members’ retirements, they can take the long view.
(informal) used when you are saying that you will get to the point of what you are saying quickly, without including all the details To cut a long story short, we didn’t get home until 3 in the morning!