a little

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adj. lit·tler or less (lĕs) also less·er (lĕs′ər), 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.
a little
Somewhat; a bit: felt a little better.
little by little
By small degrees or increments; gradually.

[Middle English, from Old English lȳtel.]

lit′tle·ness n.


a little
1. 'little' used as an adjective

Little is usually an adjective. You use it to talk about the size of something.

He took a little black book from his pocket.
2. 'a little' used as an adverb

A little is usually an adverb. You use it after a verb, or in front of an adjective or another adverb. It means 'to a small extent or degree'.

They get paid for it. Not much. Just a little.
The local football team is doing a little better.
The celebrations began a little earlier than expected.

Be Careful!
Don't use 'a little' in front of an adjective when the adjective comes in front of a noun. Don't say, for example, 'It was a little better result'. Say 'It was a slightly better result' or 'It was a somewhat better result'.

3. used in front of nouns

Little and a little are also used in front of nouns to talk about quantities. When they are used like this, they do not have the same meaning.

You use a little to show that you are talking about a small quantity or amount of something. When you use little without 'a', you are emphasizing that there is only a small quantity or amount of something.

So, for example, if you say 'I have a little money', you are saying that you have some money. However, if you say 'I have little money', you mean that you do not have enough money.

I had made a little progress.
It is clear that little progress was made.
4. used as pronouns

Little and a little can be used in similar ways as pronouns.

Beat in the eggs, a little at a time.
Little has changed.
5. 'not much'

In conversation and in less formal writing, people do not usually use 'little' without 'a'. Instead they use not much. For example, instead of saying 'I have little money', they say 'I haven't got much money' or 'I don't have much money'.

I haven't got much appetite.
We don't have much time.

Be Careful!
Don't use 'little' or 'a little' when you are talking about a small number of people or things. Don't say, for example, 'She has a little hens'. Say 'She has a few hens'. Similarly, don't say 'Little people attended his lectures'. Say 'Few people attended his lectures', or 'Not many people attended his lectures'.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adv.1.a little - to a small degree; somewhat; "it's a bit warm"; "felt a little better"; "a trifle smaller"
بضعقليلقليلاكميَّة قليلَهمسافةً قصيرَه
en smulelidt
थोड़ा साथोड़ा-थोड़ाथोड़ी-थोड़ी
egy kevésegy kiskevés
dálítiîdálítiî, smávegiseilítillörlítillsmá
en smulalitelite grandlite grann


(ˈlitl) adjective
1. small in size. He is only a little boy; when she was little (= a child).
2. small in amount; not much. He has little knowledge of the difficulties involved.
3. not important. I did not expect her to make a fuss about such a little thing.
(only) a small amount. He knows little of the real world.
1. not much. I go out little nowadays.
2. only to a small degree. a little-known fact.
3. not at all. He little knows how ill he is.
a little
1. a short time or distance. Move a little to the right!
2. a small quantity of something. He has a little money to spare; 'Is there any soup left?' `Yes, a little.'
3. slightly. She was a little frightened.
little by little
gradually. Little by little we began to get to know him.
make little of
1. to treat as unimportant etc. He made little of his injuries.
2. not to be able to understand. I could make little of his instructions.

little means `not much': You have little reason to boast .
a little means `some', `a small quantity': There's a little milk left .
References in classic literature ?
He then observed that in the parlour window was a blind with the inscription, MR CRIPPLES's ACADEMY; also in another line, EVENING TUITION; and behind the blind was a little white-faced boy, with a slice of bread-and-butter and a battledore.
Even a little boy could be of use there, and Toomai was as useful as three boys.
THEN he suggested that they should fill the pocket- handkerchief with onions, as a little present for his Aunt.
The elder child was a little girl, whom, because she was of a tender and modest disposition, and was thought to be very beautiful, her parents, and other people who were familiar with her, used to call Violet.
Fair cousin, did you not speak to us of a little Bohemian whom you saved a couple of months ago, while making the patrol with the watch at night, from the hands of a dozen robbers?
One summer's morning a little tailor was sitting on his table by the window; he was in good spirits, and sewed with all his might.
Caddy was now the mother, and I the godmother, of such a poor little baby--such a tiny old-faced mite, with a countenance that seemed to be scarcely anything but cap-border, and a little lean, long-fingered hand, always clenched under its chin.
Lessons all day, a highly instructive lecture, books over a solitary fire, or music with no audience but a sleepy cat and a bird with his head tucked under his wing, for evening entertainment, was not exactly what might be called festive; so, in spite of her brave resolutions, Polly did long for a little fun sometimes, and after saying virtuously to herself at nine: "Yes, it is much wiser and better for me to go to bed early, and be ready for work tomorrow," she would lie awake hearing the carriages roll to and fro, and imagining the gay girls inside, going to party, opera, or play, till Mrs.
A double tier of bedroom galleries, with old Clumsy balustrades, ran round two sides of the straggling area, and a double row of bells to correspond, sheltered from the weather by a little sloping roof, hung over the door leading to the bar and coffee-room.
Well then, don't you think they might be all the better for a little lecturing and punishing now and then?
A little way off was a small brook, rushing and sparkling along between green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl who had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies.
In a large town, where there are so many houses, and so many people, that there is no roof left for everybody to have a little garden; and where, on this account, most.