Definition of small adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//smɔːl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//smɔːl//
    (smaller, smallest)
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    not large
  1. 1  not 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—have you got a small one?
  3. 3  not as big as something else of the same kind the small intestine
  4. young
  5. 4  young They have three small children. We travelled 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. 5  slight; 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.
  14. Word OriginOld English smæl, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch smal and German schmal.Extra examples Choose plants that will stay small. Employers, large and small, face massive fines. My coat was rather small for Bob. Technology has made the world smaller. The gap seemed to be getting smaller. The kite grew smaller and smaller and finally disappeared altogether. The phones are getting smaller and smaller. Add a small amount of liquid to the mixture. Can I ask you a small favour? Don’t worry. It’s only a small problem. He has incredibly small handwriting. He would try anything to make her even the smallest degree happier. She comes from a small town in the Mid-West. The T-shirts come in small, medium and large. The candidate with the smallest number of votes has to stand down. Their apartment’s pretty small. These shoes are too big. Do you have some in a smaller size? They’re having a relatively small wedding. You can grow a stunning display of flowers even in the smallest garden. a slight/​small adjustment/​alteration/​amendment/​change/​improvement/​reduction/​rise/​variation a slight/​small mistake/​error/​defect/​flaw/​blemish/​discrepancy/​problem/​snag/​accident a small amount/​number/​quantity/​degree/​proportion/​minorityIdioms
    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
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    (North American English, informal) used to tell somebody not to worry about small details or unimportant things
    do wonders (for somebody/something)
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    to have a very good effect on somebody/something The news has done wonders for our morale.
    of all sizes or types all creatures great and small 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. (saying) used to express your surprise when you meet somebody you know in an unexpected place, or when you are talking to somebody and find out that you both know the same person 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. See related entries: Embarrassment
    the small/early hours (also especially Scottish English the wee small hours, especially North American English 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
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    (literary) the voice of God or your conscience, that tells you to do what is morally right
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: small