Definition of short in English:


See synonyms for short

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  • 1Measuring a small distance from end to end.

    ‘short dark hair’
    • ‘a short flight of steps’
    • ‘the bed was too short for him’
    small, little, tiny, minuscule
    low, squat, stubby, miniature, dwarf
    direct, straight
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    1. 1.1(of a journey) covering a small distance.
      • ‘the hotel is a short walk from the sea’
    2. 1.2(of a garment or sleeves on a garment) only covering the top part of a person's arms or legs.
      • ‘a short skirt’
    3. 1.3(of a person) small in height.
      • ‘he is short and tubby’
      small, little, petite, tiny, squat, stocky, dumpy, stubby, elfin, dwarfish, diminutive, Lilliputian
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    4. 1.4(of a ball in cricket, a shot in tennis, etc.) traveling only a small distance before bouncing.
      • ‘he uses his opportunities to attack every short ball’
    5. 1.5
      short for shortstop
  • 2Lasting or taking a small amount of time.

    ‘visiting London for a short break’
    • ‘a short conversation’
    brief, momentary, temporary, short-lived, impermanent, short-term, cursory, fleeting, passing, fugitive, flying, lightning, transitory, transient, ephemeral, evanescent, fading, quick, meteoric
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    1. 2.1attributive Seeming to last less time than is the case; passing quickly.
      • ‘in 10 short years all this changed’
    2. 2.2(of a person's memory) retaining things for only a small amount of time.
      • ‘he has a short memory for past misdeeds’
    3. 2.3Stock Market (of stocks or other securities or commodities) sold in advance of being acquired, with reliance on the price falling so that a profit can be made.
    4. 2.4Stock Market (of a broker, position in the market, etc.) buying or based on short stocks or other securities or commodities.
    5. 2.5Denoting or having a relatively early date for the maturing of a bill of exchange.
  • 3Relatively small in extent.

    ‘a short speech’
    • ‘he wrote a short book’
    concise, brief, succinct, to the point, compact, terse, curt, summary, economical, crisp, short and sweet, pithy, epigrammatic, laconic, pointed, thumbnail, abridged, abbreviated, condensed, synoptic, compendious, summarized, contracted, curtailed, truncated
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    1. 3.1short of/onNot having enough of (something); lacking or deficient in.
      ‘they were very short of provisions’
      • ‘I know you're short on cash’
      deficient in, lacking, lacking in, wanting, wanting in, in need of, low on, short on, missing, with an insufficiency of, with too few …, with too little …
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    2. 3.2predicative In insufficient supply.
      • ‘food is short’
      scarce, in short supply, scant, scanty, meagre, sparse, hard to find, hard to come by, not enough, too little, insufficient, deficient, inadequate, lacking, wanting
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  • 4Phonetics
    (of a vowel) categorized as short with regard to quality and length (e.g. in standard British English the vowel /ʊ/ in good is short as distinct from the long vowel /uː/ in food).

    1. 4.1Prosody (of a vowel or syllable) having the lesser of the two recognized durations.
  • 5predicative (of a person) terse; uncivil.

    • ‘he was often sharp and rather short with her’
    curt, sharp, abrupt, blunt, brusque, terse, offhand, gruff, ungracious, graceless, surly, snappy, testy, tart, rude, discourteous, uncivil, impolite, ill-mannered, bad-mannered
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  • 6(of odds or a chance) reflecting or representing a high level of probability.

    • ‘they have been backed at short odds to win thousands of pounds’
  • 7(of pastry) containing a high proportion of fat to flour and therefore crumbly.

    crumbly, crispy, crisp, brittle, friable
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    1. 7.1(of clay) having poor plasticity.



/SHôrt/ /ʃɔrt/


  • 1(chiefly in sport) at, to, or over a relatively small distance.

    • ‘you go deep and you go short’
    1. 1.1Not as far as the point aimed at; not far enough.
      • ‘all too often you pitch the ball short’



/SHôrt/ /ʃɔrt/


  • 1British A drink of spirits served in a small measure.

  • 2A short film as opposed to a feature film.

  • 3A short sound such as a short signal in Morse code or a short vowel or syllable.

    • ‘her call was two longs and a short’
  • 4A short circuit.

  • 5Stock Market
    A person who sells short.

    1. 5.1shortsStock Market Short-dated stocks.
  • 6shortsA mixture of bran and coarse flour.



/SHôrt/ /ʃɔrt/


  • 1Short-circuit or cause to short-circuit.

    no object ‘the electrical circuit had shorted out’
    • ‘if the contact terminals are shorted, the battery quickly overheats’
  • 2Stock Market
    with object Sell (stocks or other securities or commodities) in advance of acquiring them, with the aim of making a profit when the price falls.

    • ‘the rule prevents sellers from shorting a stock unless the last trade resulted in a price increase’



/SHôrt/ /ʃɔrt/


    a brick short of a load
    • (of a person) stupid or mad.

      • ‘he seems to be a few bricks short of a load’
    a sandwich short of a picnic
    • (of a person) stupid or mad.

    be caught short
    • 1Be put at a disadvantage.

      • ‘he encouraged young people to build up a range of skills so they are not caught short when employment ends suddenly’
      1. 1.1British informal Urgently need to urinate or defecate.
        • ‘those caught short in the store will have to pay £1 to use the toilets’
    bring someone up short
    • Make someone stop or pause abruptly.

      • ‘he was entering the office when he was brought up short by the sight of John’
    come short
    • 1Fail to reach a goal or standard.

      • ‘we're so close to getting the job done, but we keep coming up short’
      1. 1.1South African Get into trouble.
        • ‘if you try to trick him you'll come short’
    for short
    • As an abbreviation or nickname.

      • ‘the File Transfer Protocol, or FTP for short’
    go short
    • Not have enough of something, especially food.

      • ‘you won't go short when I die’
    have someone by the short and curlies
    • Have complete control of someone.

      • ‘they had you by your short and curlies the minute they got you into that uniform’


      From military slang, referring to pubic hair.

    have someone by the short hairs
    North American informal
    • Have complete control of someone.

      • ‘the prosecutor has him by the short hairs’


      From military slang, referring to pubic hair.

    in short
    • To sum up; briefly.

      • ‘we hope, in short, to bring theory and practice together in each session’
    in short order
    mainly North American
    • Immediately; rapidly.

      • ‘after the killing the camp had been shut down in short order’
    in the short term
    • In the near future.

      ‘in the short term some sacrifices may be made’
      • ‘they will increase output in the short run’
    • Over or for a short period of time.

      • ‘these ventures are unlikely to yield much return in the short term’
    little short of
    • Almost; little less than.

      • ‘he regarded the cost of living as little short of scandalous’
    make short work of
    • Accomplish, consume, or destroy quickly.

      • ‘we made short work of our huge portions’
    nothing short of
    • The equivalent of; equal to (used for emphasis)

      • ‘what they have achieved is nothing short of a miracle’
    sell short
    Stock Market
    • Sell stock or other securities or commodities which one does not own at the time, in the hope of buying at a lower price before the delivery time.

    sell someone/something short
    • Fail to recognize or state the true value of.

      • ‘don't sell yourself short—you've got what it takes’
    short and sweet
    • Brief but pleasant or relevant.

      • ‘his comments were short and sweet’
      concise, brief, succinct, to the point, compact, terse, curt, summary, economical, crisp, short and sweet, pithy, epigrammatic, laconic, pointed, thumbnail, abridged, abbreviated, condensed, synoptic, compendious, summarized, contracted, curtailed, truncated
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    short for
    • An abbreviation or nickname for.

      • ‘I'm Robbie—short for Roberta’
    short of
    • 1Less than.

      • ‘he died at sixty-one, four years short of his pensionable age’
      1. 1.1Not reaching as far as.
        • ‘a rocket failure left a satellite tumbling in an orbit far short of its proper position’
      2. 1.2Without going so far as (some extreme action)
        • ‘short of putting out an all-persons alert, there's little else we can do’
    short of breath
    • Panting; short-winded.

      • ‘they become short of breath on very slight exertion’
    stop short
    • Stop (or cause to stop) suddenly or abruptly.

      ‘she began to speak, but stopped short at the look on the other woman's face’
      • ‘I was about to reply with a sarcastic remark when a thought stopped me short’
    stop short of
    • Not go as far as (some extreme action)

      • ‘the measures stopped short of establishing direct trade links’
    the short end of the stick
    North American
    • An outcome in which one has less advantage than others.


Old English sceort, of Germanic origin; related to shirt and skirt.