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 ©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.