v. short·ened, short·en·ing, short·ens
1. To make short or shorter.
2. To reduce in force, efficacy, or intensity.
3. To add shortening to (dough) so as to make flaky.
4. Nautical To take in (a sail, sails, or part of a sail) so that less canvas is exposed to the wind, thereby reducing speed: shortened sail in advance of the storm.
To become short or shorter.
Synonyms: shorten, abbreviate, abridge, curtail, truncate
These verbs mean to reduce something in length, duration, or extent: shortened his life by smoking; abbreviated the speech for the television news show; abridged the book as an essay; curtailed their visit by a week; truncated the conversation by saying goodbye.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.