1 /'lItl/ adjective
1 SIZE small in size: a little house | their little group of supporters | a little bit of especially BrE (=a small piece of something): little bits of paper all over the floor | little tiny spoken (=extremely small): a little tiny puppy | a little something informal (=a small present): I promised the kids a little something if they ate all their dinner.
2 used about something or someone that is small to show that you like or dislike them, or that you feel sorry for them: nice little/clever little etc: a nice little house | a clever little gadget | It wasn't a bad little car. | nasty little/silly little etc: another of her silly little jokes | a boring little man | poor little/pathetic little (=used when you feel sympathetic): her sad little face looking up at me | a poor little bird with a broken wing
3 done in a way that is not very strong or noticeable; slight: a wry little smile
4 TIME/DISTANCE short in time or distance: I can have a nice little nap in the car. | You'll find it a little way along this path. | a little while (=a short period of time): He arrived a little while ago. | We sat there for a little while longer.
5 YOUNG young and small: a cute little puppy | We didn't have toys like this when I was little. | a little boy/girl: two little boys playing in the street | your little girl/boy (=your son or daughter who is still a child): Mum, I'm 17 - I'm not your little girl any longer. | little brother/sister (=a younger brother or sister who is still a child)
a) not important: I'm too busy to worry about little things like broken windows.
b) used jokingly when you really think that something is important: There's just that little matter of the -5000 you owe me.
7 a little bird told me humorous spoken used to say that someone who you are not going to name has told you something about another person: A little bird told me you're getting married soon.
8 the little woman spoken an expression meaning someone's wife, often considered offensive especially by women
USAGE NOTE: LITTLE WORD CHOICE: little, small Little often suggests that you are talking about someone or something small that you are fond of or feel sympathetic towards: What a sweet little dog! | A little old lady lived in the house opposite. Small simply describes the size of something: My daughter's room is smaller than mine. | He packed his things into a small bag. You also use small when you are giving information and facts: There has been a small increase in production. Little can also suggest that someone or something is unimportant: What a silly little man! When you are speaking it often sounds more friendly or polite to say something is little rather than small: I have a little problem, can you help? makes the problem sound less serious or urgent than: I have a small problem and We're going to have a little test sounds a little less frightening than: We're going to have a small test. 2 quantifier
1 only a small amount or hardly any of something: Little is known about these areas of the moon. | There's little to be gained from an official complaint. | I paid little attention to what the others were saying. | very little: During that period I ate very little and slept even less | There's very little money left. | There seems very little point in continuing this discussion. | little or no: peasants who have little or no land | little of: Little of their wealth now remains. | do little to help/benefit etc: The new filing system has done little to improve efficiency. | as little as possible (=the smallest amount that you can have or do): He always writes as little as possible. | little real effect/importance etc (=used to emphasize that there is hardly any effect etc): The laboratory tests are of little real value. | precious little (=very little): There's precious little good news.
-see few
2 a little also a little bit a small amount: I told him a little bit about it. | Fortunately I had a little time to spare. | She speaks a little French. | A little over half the class can swim. | a little more/less: He poured me out a little more wine. | "Would you like some more coffee? " " Just a little, thanks." | a little of: The city is regaining a little of its former splendour.
3 TIME/DISTANCE a short time or distance: a little over 60 years ago | We walked on a little and then turned back.
4 what little the small amount that there is, that is possible etc: We did what little we could to help. | The firemen recovered what little remained of the bodies.
3 adverb
1 a little also a little bit to a small degree: She trembled a little as she spoke. | I was a little bit disappointed with my test results. | a little more/better/further etc: We shall have to wait a little longer to see what happens.
2 not much or only slightly: The pattern of life here has changed little since I was a boy. | little known/understood etc (=not known etc by many people): a little known corner of the world | little more/better etc (than): His voice was little more than a whisper. | very little: The situation has improved very little, in spite of all our efforts. | as little as possible: I try to disturb her as little as possible when she's working.
3 little did sb think/realize also sb little thought/realized used to mean that someone did not think or realize that something was true: Little did he realize that we were watching his every move.
4 little by little gradually: Little by little things returned to normal.
5 more than a little/not a little formal extremely: Graham was more than a little frightened by what he had seen.
6 (just) that little bit extra/harder/better etc more, harder etc by a small amount that will have an important effect: people who work just that little bit harder than anyone else

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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