adj. lit·tler or less (lĕs) also less·er (lĕsər), lit·tlest or least (lēst)
a. Small in size: a little dining room.
b. Small in quantity or extent: a little money; a little work on the side. See Synonyms at small.
2. Short in extent or duration; brief: There is little time left.
3. Unimportant; trivial: a little matter.
4. Narrow; petty: mean little comments; a little mind consumed with trivia.
5. Having scant power or influence; of minor status: just a little clerk in the records office.
a. Being at an early stage of growth; young: a little child.
b. Younger or youngest. Used especially of a sibling: My little brother is leaving for college next week.
adv. less or lesser, least
1. Not much; scarcely: works long hours, sleeping little.
2. Not in the least; not at all: They little expected such a generous gift.
1. A small quantity or amount: Give me a little.
2. Something much less than all: I know little of their history.
3. A short distance or time: a little down the road; waited a little.
Somewhat; a bit: felt a little better.
little by little
By small degrees or increments; gradually.
[Middle English, from Old English lȳtel.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.