Main definitions of long in English

: long1long2



  • 1Measuring a great distance from end to end.

    ‘a long corridor’
    ‘long black hair’
    ‘the queue for tickets was long’
    • ‘Turning, he could see the dark line of cliffs from which he had come, and a long stretch of beach.’
    • ‘She has long straight blonde hair, which she usually wears in a ponytail.’
    • ‘High hedging ensures a good deal of privacy and the long driveway provides ample parking.’
    • ‘She is described as white, about 25, of medium build, with long straight brown hair.’
    • ‘The zoo was packed with happy children and there were long queues to get in.’
    • ‘I am the last in a relatively long queue.’
    • ‘Neighbours say he had a pronounced limp and had shaved his head while retaining his long beard.’
    • ‘She deftly ties a knot at the end of a long piece of thread before poking the other quickly through the needle's eye.’
    • ‘He had long eyelashes.’
    • ‘The hoods of their robes covered their heads, and they wore long belts of white rope.’
    • ‘He started the car and began to drive down the long road from the camp to the highway.’
    • ‘My room was at the end of a very long hallway with no doors along most of its length.’
    • ‘The President sits at the head of a long table, immaculately dressed in a suit and striped tie.’
    • ‘His face, though powerful, was marred by a long scar stretching across his forehead.’
    • ‘Some of the roads are long and winding which results in numerous blindspots along the way.’
    • ‘Girls with long hair must tie it back with burgundy or black clips to match the uniform.’
    • ‘Among the supplies is a heavy knife with a long blade that will work as a tool or a weapon.’
    • ‘The bride given in marriage by her father Tommy looked radiant in a white dress with long train.’
    • ‘The strikes continue today and bosses are warning claimants and job seekers to expect long queues.’
    • ‘After a couple of lefts and a right she found herself in a long, straight corridor.’
    lengthy, of considerable length, extended, prolonged, extensive, stretched out, spread out
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(after a measurement and in questions) measuring a specified distance from end to end.
      ‘a boat 150 feet long’
      • ‘The longest bony fish in the sea, it grows up to nine metres long with a bright red crest that runs the entire length of its body.’
      • ‘The tiny stick of metal was less than an inch long, and thinner than a paperclip.’
      • ‘The structure, constructed entirely of reinforced concrete, is 200 metres long.’
      • ‘He had found an iron rod about a yard long on the riverbank.’
      • ‘How long is your garden?’
      • ‘The course is ten miles long with a five mile climb to the summit and a very fast descent over scree and rocks.’
      • ‘It is about seven foot long and - other than some mould on the wood - is in excellent condition.’
      • ‘It came in a box about three feet long and two feet wide.’
      • ‘The fish must be forty five inches long.’
      • ‘The explosive device is a foot long and shaped like a cigar.’
      • ‘I pulled at it and it turned out to be a three to three and a half inch long piece of metal.’
      • ‘How long is the scar?’
      • ‘At the moment the longest leaf is 4 inches long, with half an inch of stem to the main stem.’
      • ‘The route itself is 73 miles long and would probably take the average walker five or six days.’
      in length, lengthways, lengthwise
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2(of a journey) covering a great distance.
      ‘I went for a long walk’
      • ‘Get up and stretch when on long journeys such as on a coach or plane.’
      • ‘I've got to get up early in the morning as I have a long journey ahead of me.’
      • ‘Years ago you needed a big car to be comfortable on long journeys, but not any more.’
      • ‘Now nearly 60, Andrew is working as a trainer on lower pay and with a long journey to work.’
      • ‘Often his journeys involve long treks through remote regions, giving him time to look and think.’
      • ‘I had a long journey ahead of me, but the reward far outweighed the cost in effort.’
      • ‘Anyone who misses the bus for the return journey must make the long walk home.’
      • ‘‘This is an awfully long walk,’ he said casually.’
      • ‘They all looked bewildered and unkempt and had apparently had a very long journey.’
      • ‘The long drive back offered everyone the chance to reflect on the trip.’
      • ‘The weary mother wept as the bus began its long journey back to her small village.’
      • ‘By the time she got to Florida, the car had broken down and couldn't make the long journey back.’
      • ‘Wales march on, but for poor tired Italy, the long flight home will be a chance to reflect on what might have been.’
      • ‘We were very quickly trained, flew at very low level for a long way at night and succeeded.’
      • ‘It should go without saying that it's vital to ensure that the car is capable of a long journey.’
      • ‘Normally, cabbies asked to take clients on long journeys ask for the money up-front.’
      • ‘The pilgrims had an extra long journey due to the extra security at the Airport.’
      • ‘The couple had made the long journey from Kent for the bags, joining the queue at 12.30 am.’
      • ‘The long journey took its toll on the intrepid traveller as her petrol tank sprung a leak and her aerial fell off.’
      • ‘In January 1642 the king left London and began a long journey round the Midlands and the north.’
    3. 1.3(of a ball in sport) travelling a great distance, or further than expected or intended.
      ‘he tried to head a long ball back to the keeper’
      • ‘Henry is at his best when receiving long breakaway ball which allows him to run at defenders.’
      • ‘One long Aberdeen ball upfield 30 seconds later and Riordan was to be harshly punished.’
      • ‘A long ball by the excellent Tommy Farrell was headed clear.’
      • ‘Reed hit a long free kick and this time Graham Curry headed over his keeper into the unguarded net.’
      • ‘The hilly golf terrain favored his long ball.’
      • ‘Five minutes later Owen beat Dixon to a long through ball and side footed the ball past Seaman for a late, late winner.’
      • ‘He can hit the long ball.’
    4. 1.4(of a garment or sleeves on a garment) covering the whole of a person's legs or arms.
      ‘a sweater with long sleeves’
      ‘he's scarcely old enough to be in long trousers’
      • ‘The girls of six to ten shall be given skirts or long dresses, and the boys of six to fourteen shall be provided with trousers.’
      • ‘I almost didn't notice her for a second, but she tugged impatiently on my long sleeve.’
      • ‘They wore pale pink long dresses, fitted at the top and flowing at the bottom and carried cream and pink roses.’
      • ‘A lot of my friends wore miniskirts but I liked my long summer dress which was more comfortable.’
      • ‘The neck line dipped demurely and the long sleeves puffed slightly at the shoulders.’
      • ‘She was dressed in a long skirt, which is not part of our school uniform.’
      • ‘Cyclists and motorcyclists should always wear a protective helmet and long sleeves.’
      • ‘In Kenya, for instance, native women prefer to see female tourists in long skirts and sleeves.’
      • ‘I suggest he goes outside, puts on his first pair of long trousers, and then comes back.’
      • ‘He wore a light blue sweatshirt with long sleeves and blue or black tracksuit bottoms.’
      • ‘He was clothed in a soiled tunic and long trousers that barely hid his bronzed feet and grubby toenails.’
      • ‘He wore some kind of big baggy silken shirt with long sleeves that almost stretched down to the tips of his fingers.’
      • ‘He was a long white tunic reaching to the ankles and with long sleeves, made from white linen or wool.’
      • ‘Encumbered by her large handbag, she struggles keep her long skirt and shawl out of the mess.’
      • ‘Shorts feel cool, but they can lead to burned legs: you need lightweight long trousers.’
      • ‘Her scathing glance slid over me, taking in the baggy shirt and long skirt.’
      • ‘She reached into the wardrobe and removed one of the long dresses that had caught her eye.’
      • ‘Though it was a good 75 degrees out he was wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt.’
      • ‘He wore black pants with a maroon shirt, the long sleeves pushed up to his elbows.’
      • ‘I packed for Scotland with long sleeves and waterproofs but had to buy a t-shirt in the golf shop.’
    5. 1.5Of elongated shape.
      ‘shaped like a torpedo, long and thin’
      • ‘Addington is the larger of two adjacent long barrows overlooking a tributary of the Medway.’
      • ‘The finger bun was long and thin and had pink icing on top.’
      • ‘The pancakes are served on long, thin wooden plates reflecting their size and shape.’
      • ‘I was trying to explain to Thomas that these long thin clouds were from planes, and were kind of like train tracks.’
      • ‘Fill the bag with the roux and pipe long sausages of the mixture on to the tray.’
      • ‘He has long thin sideburns and was wearing silver oblong small-frame silver glasses.’
      • ‘His spear was simple, as well: a long, reasonably thin shaft of wood with an iron point at the end.’
      • ‘Then they transfer the dye colours to it and roll out the substance into a long and thin shape.’
      • ‘Just make sure you have a suitably long implement with which to scrape out the marrow so you can spread it on some toast.’
      • ‘The walls were covered in sponges and a few anemones but the beauty of the cave lay in its long, narrow shape.’
      • ‘Now everyone's in a movie, or a TV show, drinking champagne out of long flutes on a Friday night.’
      • ‘I've noticed that a lot of people seem to be carrying long thin hockey stick shaped bags.’
      • ‘Food is served on long low tables, tall enough to allow guests to sit cross legged and to belly up to the edge.’
      • ‘It was a room of narrow but long shape, with two glassless windows with wooden shutters.’
      • ‘This is a long thin instrument with a light source at its tip, to light up the inside of the abdomen or pelvis.’
      • ‘His face was long and thin, his eyes a pale blue.’
      • ‘There is a knack to dealing with a mango, which contains a long, thin stone to which the flesh clings for dear life.’
      • ‘Well, let me just say that I'm sat at the computer drinking from a long, fluted glass.’
      • ‘Picking up a long pole with a hooked end, a farmer plucks down a pod and cleaves it open with a cutlass.’
      • ‘He walked over to a tree with a hollow in it, and pulled out a large bag with something long and thin in it.’
    6. 1.6informal (of a person) tall.
      • ‘A long woman standing nearby was staring at us.’
      • ‘He was a long lean man with grey eyes.’
  • 2Lasting or taking a great amount of time.

    ‘a long and distinguished career’
    ‘she took a long time to dress’
    • ‘It took her quite a long time to get dressed and undressed.’
    • ‘Subsequently I have battled a lot of physical ailments, some of long duration.’
    • ‘If you are going on vacation for a long period, you can ask the neighbour to keep a watch on your home.’
    • ‘Swindon Traffic Police said long delays were expected due to the volume of the traffic.’
    • ‘Nicole said that she did not think she would be ready to marry anyone for a long time.’
    • ‘After an excruciatingly long pause, Amy gasped.’
    • ‘Aged 39, he was looking forward to a long and successful career in local government.’
    • ‘The irregular working hours and long gaps between jobs meant I had lots of time for boyfriends.’
    • ‘Health problems need to be attended to and resolved or they can linger for a long time.’
    • ‘The author had a long career in journalism and his final post was that of executive editor of the European.’
    • ‘However, if you had been a drugs dealer, you could have expected a long prison sentence.’
    • ‘Sometimes he takes a long time between balls and then, for a change, he simply turns and comes right at you.’
    • ‘At the end of another match he surprised the crowd by breaking into a long speech about Oscar Wilde.’
    • ‘Colleagues today paid tribute to their engine driver, who had made many friends during his long career.’
    • ‘I actually managed to get my long speech done in two takes which I was delighted with.’
    • ‘Once the trailers were over, there was an unusually long pause when the screen was just black.’
    • ‘Britain's defeat means their long search for a gold medal in the men's team pursuit goes on.’
    • ‘If they open their windows, the smell pervades their homes and lingers there for a long time.’
    • ‘They spent long periods chasing the ball.’
    • ‘Loud arguments and minor scuffles are a common sight, as the long wait wears down patience.’
    prolonged, protracted, lengthy, overlong, extended, long-drawn-out, drawn-out, spun-out, dragged-out, seemingly endless, lingering, interminable
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1(after a noun of duration and in questions) lasting or taking a specified amount of time.
      ‘a week-long course’
      ‘the debates will be 90 minutes long’
      • ‘This can be entirely attributed to my participation in a six-and-a-half hour long meeting.’
      • ‘I wonder - how long have you enjoyed gardening, and what helped to develop your interest in it?’
      • ‘As if rowing and golfing hadn't been enough for one day, I then went for a hour long swim.’
      • ‘If houses were built right next to the youth club, how long before the new owners object to the noise and disruption?’
      • ‘So on the morning of the test we had an hour long lesson where we basically had to drive up to Palmer's Green to the test centre.’
      • ‘All sessions are 2 hours long.’
      • ‘The question was asked how long would it take to recoup the cost of parking meters when few people were using some of the places.’
      • ‘How long did it take for women to get the right to vote?’
      • ‘The only question in her mind, was how long would it take for everything to work out?’
      • ‘The final excitement for my week was the several hour long blackout at work yesterday.’
      • ‘They used two bits from the hour long interview, and not the bits that I would necessarily have chosen.’
      • ‘Last week I began a month-long experiment during which I’m trying to drink only water.’
      • ‘The longest individual work here is a little over 11 minutes long, many last less than a minute.’
      • ‘How long do you have noticeable bruising and scars after facial surgery?’
      • ‘The government has organised a year-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of the late reggae icon Robert 'Bob' Nesta Marley.’
      • ‘My only question now is how long will I have to wait before house prices return to sensible levels again?’
    2. 2.2[attributive]Seeming to last more time than is the case; lengthy.
      ‘serving long hours on the committee’
      • ‘There were long, wet days when our house seemed so gloomy that I once burst into tears just driving up to it.’
      • ‘Working in a sterile office for three long years left me repressed and saddened by the world.’
      • ‘Six thirty in the evening and she was already dressed for the duration of a long night ahead.’
      • ‘They both walked up the stairs to get dressed for the long day that lay ahead of them.’
      • ‘We hid for another five long cold hours, well into the night, as we sped across the desert towards the city.’
      • ‘We turned into bed early that night, readying ourselves for what we expected would be a long day.’
      • ‘It's been a long and very busy week, and the week ahead looks about the same, and I desperately need to wind down.’
      • ‘He had a solid game that day; as much as could be possibly expected after long months on the sidelines.’
      • ‘He candidly admits in the book he spent months on the couch and long hours with a marriage counsellor.’
      • ‘There were long days when I was on my own with the physiotherapists, but it's all paid off.’
      • ‘The tired and weary doormen can only hope it is not too long a night.’
      • ‘She doesn't have a job and isn't allowed to go out, so she fills the long hours every day by teaching her kids how to swear.’
      • ‘I try to go shopping where they wrap for you, otherwise I have a long night of cursing and weeping.’
      • ‘I was very grateful to have one night at home, because I knew that it was going to be a long and crazy week.’
      • ‘A few days went by and it seemed like the summer was going to be very long and heading towards boring.’
      • ‘He has been here since the camp started, and the long nights get boring.’
      • ‘The lack of a break after a long year's tedious work will reduce the efficiency of teachers.’
      • ‘Trapped in the house together during the long curfew hours, Marie spent her days making marmalade.’
      • ‘They were entertained through the long dark hours by live music and a fireworks display.’
      • ‘I haven't seen Liam for a while but when I do it'll probably be a very long night!’
    3. 2.3(of a person's memory) retaining things for a great amount of time.
      • ‘I'm a historian with a long memory and a sentimental attachment to my past.’
      • ‘Those with long memories can recall what happened in the city of Ann Arbor, in the early 1970s.’
      • ‘Wiltshire people have long memories as the County Council cabinet will find to their cost.’
      • ‘Maybe the voters will have long memories when the next elections come around.’
      • ‘Although he affects a gentle demeanour, O'Leary has a long memory and his opinions can be acidic.’
      • ‘Those of us with long political memories tend to look back at events of the past and expect history to repeat itself.’
      • ‘The Parisian spectators have long memories and they do not like a bad loser.’
      • ‘You don't need a long memory to have perspective in sport, just a memory.’
  • 3Relatively great in extent.

    ‘write a long report’
    ‘a long list of candidates’
    • ‘He was the original Hollywood heart-throb, a star with good looks and a long list of lovers.’
    • ‘I made a long list of promises to God of how good I'd be in future if only we could get this sorted out.’
    • ‘Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients: it is really easy to make.’
    • ‘All I came up with was a series of brain achingly long reports that left me more confused than when I started.’
    • ‘Now they have turned to a police offender profiler to try and narrow down a long list of potential suspects.’
    • ‘Vegetarians are well catered for and the chef will rustle up a long list of meat-free dishes on request.’
    • ‘The attacks are the latest in a long list of violent crimes to have blighted Yorkshire in the last month.’
    • ‘The vegetarian menu takes up a page, and there is a long list of fish and poultry dishes.’
    • ‘Ms Kelly said the department eventually put out a long report so that no one would notice its conclusions.’
    • ‘Despite a long list of honorary titles she has remained far from grand.’
    • ‘An incredibly long menu makes perfect sense in head office, but causes havoc in the kitchen.’
    • ‘I met a German lady who sat in the piazza with a dictionary so that she could write a long letter to me.’
    • ‘The former president has a long list of credits not only here at home but abroad.’
    • ‘Replacing the bathroom was way down on a long list of home improvement jobs, but it has now made it to the top.’
    • ‘Rarely before had such a long novel been allowed the integrity to express itself.’
    • ‘Inquiry reports are often long, comprehensive, densely written, and hard to read.’
    • ‘Getting older no longer leads to a long list of activities that you fear even attempting.’
    • ‘While both men have a long list of achievements to their credit, neither is in the first flush of youth.’
    • ‘The long list of activities includes boxing training, snooker and computer games.’
    • ‘Lots of things are bad for us, including a long list of potentially unhealthy foods.’
    1. 3.1(after a noun of extent and in questions) having a specified extent.
      ‘the statement was three pages long’
      • ‘How long will each section of the report be?’
      • ‘The full hand-written letter had originally been presented as just one sheet of paper but it is actually ten sides long.’
      • ‘How long is the book?’
      • ‘The script, he says, is approximately 800-1000 pages long, the equivalent to eight to ten hours of dialogue.’
      • ‘I've got a list of things about five sheets long to work on.’
  • 4Phonetics
    (of a vowel) categorized as long with regard to quality and length (e.g. in standard British English the vowel /uː/ in food is long as distinct from the short vowel /ʊ/ in good).

    • ‘The big problem with long vowels is that there is more than one way to spell the same sound.’
    • ‘French long vowels always occur on stressed syllables.’
    • ‘In French, Italian, and Scottish English long vowels occur in a narrow range of positions and in general do not affect meaning.’
    1. 4.1Prosody (of a vowel or syllable) having the greater of the two recognized durations.
      • ‘Vocal delivery feels like a poetry reading, spoken as much as sung, but with long drawn syllables.’
      • ‘A trochee is a metrical foot of two syllables, the first long and the second short.’
      • ‘Let's assume that long syllables take just twice as long to say as short ones.’
  • 5(of odds or a chance) reflecting or representing a low level of probability.

    ‘winning against long odds’
    • ‘If you were a betting man, you could have got long odds on such a run of bad luck.’
    • ‘In reality I knew the odds were long, and that my tendency towards scepticism would hold strong.’
    • ‘Finally the soldier muttered something to the effect that he was going to take the long chance.’
    • ‘The odds are long that the venture will be a success.’
    • ‘There was an element of ill luck, but every so often, as gamblers would tell us, long odds do come off.’
    • ‘Today is merely the start of a difficult but worthy process undertaken against long odds.’
    • ‘The odds are long, the rewards are high, but there is no assurance of winning.’
    • ‘Despite the long odds, she's hoping someone in the unemployment lines will take up the challenge.’
    • ‘Given how things went into qualifying, it was quite a long call to expect a podium finish.’
  • 6Finance
    (of shares, bonds, or other assets) bought in advance, with the expectation of a rise in price.

    • ‘Is there a worldwide shortage of long bonds?’
    • ‘Provided that restricted shares can be bought at a deep discount to market, it would make much sense for the group holding long shares to try and convert those shares into a far greater number of restricted shares.’
    • ‘That does not rule out the potential of long stocks that are going up during a down- trending market, but the probability of that happening is not as high as the alternative.’
    • ‘After all, back in the seventies, the long bond yield was up in the mid teens.’
    • ‘For this reason, their value is often calculated by making reference to the long bond yield.’
    1. 6.1(of a broker or their position in the market) buying or based on long stocks.
      • ‘Buy-ins are generated by a long broker to close out an open fail with a counterparty.’
      • ‘This is so because the central bank is on the long side of the bond market most of the time.’
      • ‘When markets turn vulnerable, the enterprising speculator may this time decide to reverse his long position and go short.’
      • ‘Traders and investors who limit themselves to long positions are conceding a big advantage to market professionals who are just as likely to go short as go long.’
      • ‘Traders are well advised to enter into a long position and place a protective stop below the latest low in the market.’
    2. 6.2(of a security) maturing at a distant date.
      • ‘Long securities are such a good substitute for cash.’
      • ‘Issuers who are unwilling to pay the price to sell these long securities can instead sell shorter maturities.’
  • 7(of a drink) large and refreshing, and in which alcohol, if present, is not concentrated.

    • ‘When I got home I poured myself a long lemonade.’
    • ‘The music is free so - in an ideal world - all you need is your shades, your sun block and a long cold drink.’
    • ‘Sip it, with ice and a dash of lemon, or make it into a refreshing long drink with sparkling water.’
    • ‘When the day is hot, order one of their long, tall concoctions and take it all in.’
    • ‘He suggests serving them in long summer drinks and Martinis, or in chilled soup such as gazpacho’
  • 8informal Well supplied with.

    ‘an industry that's long on ideas but short on cash’
    • ‘The minister has shown she is long on rhetoric but short on action.’
    • ‘Many of the businesses we work in seem long on management and short on leadership.’
    • ‘And while Scotland were long on perspiration, they were woefully short on inspiration.’
    • ‘Both movies are extremely long on mystery and innuendo.’
    • ‘The hearing which followed was long on plausibility, but short on actuality.’
    • ‘They are long on opinions, but short on evidence.’
    • ‘He is long on promises, but short on accomplishments.’


  • 1[mass noun] A long period.

    ‘see you before long’
    ‘it will not be for long’
    • ‘Before too long the mass denial and the conspiracy theories will flourish again.’
    • ‘Before long, fantasy not only intrudes into reality but becomes the only reality.’
    • ‘Then discuss it, but not for long, because this is a technique actors use to delay standing up and doing it.’
    • ‘A family business cannot survive for long without a family to run as well as own it.’
    • ‘Before long the story spread throughout the city of the crazy man who had purchased a dream.’
    • ‘Why does it take so long to mend an escalator?’
    • ‘Before long they had three young daughters.’
    • ‘Before long you're plotting weekends cycling in the country and perhaps a touring holiday or two.’
    • ‘He insisted that he had problems adapting to society after spending so long behind bars.’
    soon, shortly, presently, in the near future, in a short time, in a little while, in a minute, in a moment
    in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, in no time, in less than no time, before you know it
    by and by
    in a jiffy, in two shakes, in two shakes of a lamb's tail, before you can say jack robinson
    ere long
    View synonyms
  • 2A long sound such as a long signal in Morse code or a long vowel or syllable.

    ‘two longs and a short’
    • ‘He blew two longs, a short and a long on the steam whistle as the train inched toward its top speed of 20 miles an hour.’
    • ‘SOS is three longs, followed by three shorts, and another three longs.’
  • 3Finance
    Long-dated securities, especially gilts.

    • ‘In a weekly uptrend, continue adding to longs whenever the force index turns negative; continually add to shorts in downtrends whenever the force index turns positive.’
    • ‘As such we have exited longs and will look to buy again after the coming retracement.’
    • ‘At this level we will accumulate dollar longs and warn buyers of gold stocks to watch out for a renewed decline if the dollar's seasonal pattern holds true.’
    • ‘If the dollar rises, gold will face pressure and may need to shake out more of the weaker longs before resuming its rise.’
    1. 3.1Assets held in a long position.
      • ‘Looking at the pattern of returns emerging from the whole portfolio - mixing up longs and shorts and any currency overlays - does not give enough information.’
      • ‘The risk of the longs is that the price will fall.’
      • ‘What this tells us is that the funds had begun to not only eliminate longs but were in the process of actually building a short position since the technical indicators had all flipped negative.’


  • 1For a long time.

    ‘we hadn't known them long’
    ‘an experience they will long remember’
    ‘his long-awaited Grand Prix debut’
    • ‘The prospect of a woman defeating a man in sport has long had allure in America.’
    • ‘Nor are you likely to be waiting here long before somebody recognises your need for a cold drink or a coffee.’
    • ‘In the United States, voting has long been a minority activity; so it is becoming in Britain.’
    • ‘I like my job, but other than that, there aren't really many reasons for me to stay long at all.’
    • ‘The Government Information Service had long been a byword for incompetence.’
    • ‘The film has a power that causes it to linger long in the memory.’
    • ‘At barbecues, food must not be left lying around too long outside and must be cooked thoroughly.’
    • ‘I will think long and hard before I give my number out again.’
    • ‘They had long been sought by police in connection with a series of violent motorcycle thefts.’
    • ‘Having been a racegoer for twenty years there are a couple of performances that live long in the memory.’
    • ‘On Booker shortlists, the preponderance of some subjects over others has long been a source of comment.’
    • ‘Scotland has long had a relatively low population compared with similar European countries.’
    • ‘Einstein had long lived in horror of his bomb, which was supposed to erase evil from the planet.’
    • ‘Don't you think that cloud is staying there awfully long?’
    • ‘This was a darts match that will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it.’
    • ‘Journalists, and their editors, have long rankled at the obvious attempt at manipulation.’
    • ‘Both initiatives came into effect yesterday and both are things the taxi drivers have long campaigned for.’
    • ‘He has channelled his emotional pain into a vigorous and passionate account that will live long in my memory.’
    • ‘The Roman Catholic Church has long been criticised for failing to keep up with the times.’
    • ‘Rangers and United had their moments, but not enough at either end to make it a match that will live long in the memory.’
    1. 1.1In questions about a period of time.
      ‘how long have you been working?’
      • ‘How long he can remain on the fence is a question for an uncertain future.’
      • ‘Mr Atkins said it was unknown how long the building would be closed for.’
      • ‘He did not say how long the military would delay an attack on the headquarters.’
      • ‘Tell me about Jodie, how long you'd known her and how close you were, what sort of person she was.’
      • ‘A key question is how long it will take for new policies to take effect.’
      • ‘We asked them questions too, about how long they had been there and when they would be getting out.’
      • ‘Checking into a hotel that night, he was asked how long he was staying.’
      • ‘I'm not sure if I should join as I don't know how long I will stay with the company.’
      • ‘When Scots meet me for the first time, they always ask how long I've been here.’
      • ‘David isn't really sure how long he'll be here.’
      • ‘Questions ranged from how long the baby had been on mother's milk to how often the baby fell sick.’
      • ‘Dedicated nurses will let the patient know how long they could be waiting for treatment.’
      • ‘I can't look at that picture without wondering how long it took them to get those shadows under his eyes.’
      • ‘Find out how long it will last and what type of questions you will be asked so you can track the progress of the interview.’
      • ‘How do you prepare for the winter when you have no clue how long it will last?’
      • ‘Police said they had no idea how long the factory had been in operation, but estimated it to be around three or four months.’
      • ‘I'm hopeful that I will find another job but who knows how long it will take.’
      • ‘But organisers are not sure how long they can keep it going without more volunteers to help run it.’
      • ‘Have I been a raging misogynist for this long and simply not realised it?’
      • ‘I'm not sure how long you have lived away from these shores but the British Empire does not exist anymore.’
    2. 1.2At a time distant from a specified event or time.
      ‘the work was compiled long after his death’
      • ‘Meanwhile a forlorn figure leant against a goalpost long after the finish.’
      • ‘The rock was a meteorite, blasted off the Red Planet long ago by the impact of a comet.’
      • ‘The match proved a disaster for striker Ryan Senior, who broke a leg not long after his goal.’
      • ‘I'd go with my pals and play football or go cycling, even though this was long before mountain bikes came along.’
      • ‘We lost faith in pensions long ago.’
      • ‘Yet the Olympics have long since ceased to be a jamboree for the elite.’
      • ‘It's a particularly unfashionable old hat that ought to have gone to the charity shop long ago.’
      • ‘I gave up smoking long ago.’
      • ‘Bob sleighing was popular in and around La Plagne long before the Olympic course was built.’
      • ‘I gave up alcohol long ago as it would completely destroy me for days after.’
      • ‘Several of the action sequences will live in the memory long after the end of the final credits.’
      • ‘I do not hear my mother come out of the sitting room until long after I have gone to bed.’
      • ‘Not long ago, my partner and I went on a week's vacation to Sicily.’
      • ‘Tunisia put the ball in Spain's net, but the whistle had long since gone for offside.’
      • ‘The men long ago stopped wearing tribal costumes.’
      • ‘Helen's lust for him died long before the end of the war.’
      • ‘All of the gospel writers wrote their stories of Jesus' teaching and actions long after his death.’
      • ‘There is no doubt that the Allies knew about the death camps long before the Russians liberated Majdanek.’
      • ‘Doctors Hilary and Alan Hill fell in love with Argyll long before moving there.’
      • ‘Some of these books were on the shelves long before I started to use the library nine years ago.’
    3. 1.3[comparative], [with negative]After an implied point of time.
      ‘he couldn't wait any longer’
      • ‘We won't wait any longer for this country's children have health care and a quality education.’
      • ‘They will not keep you any longer than necessary.’
      • ‘Her father was a very important man in the city and he could not stay any longer no matter what his daughter wished.’
    4. 1.4(after a noun of duration) throughout a specified period.
      ‘it rained all day long’
      • ‘They will be in bloom all summer long, and require very little attention.’
      • ‘The Percy committee is busy fund raising all year long to come up with the money for their event.’
      • ‘There is a cinema which shows movies all day long and I am actually off to watch one in a few minutes.’
      • ‘Fatigue didn't matter, the ten men of Brazil could have kept the ball all day long and England knew it.’
      • ‘The seniors told us, the new students, to do a lot of silly things all day long.’
      • ‘All night long the hockey pictures gaze down at you sleeping in your tracksuit.’
      • ‘This is one of my all time favourite dishes - I could eat it all day long.’
      • ‘It is no secret that Shutt has worked all year long to find such a player.’
      • ‘Hayfever hits as many as one in ten of us every year, but for some allergy sufferers, the symptoms can last all year long.’
      • ‘I almost felt like bursting into tears because we've taken so much flak all year long.’
      • ‘The training period was pleasantly like being paid money to play cards all day long.’
      • ‘I have to spend my precious day off in front of a PC doing nothing but geeky stuff all day long.’
      • ‘It is Everton who have been playing a cup final every week, all season long.’
      • ‘I'd throw a ball against the wall of our house all day long to learn the basics because I had no-one to play with.’
      • ‘One Act Play Weekends showcase two to four plays that are, you guessed it, one act long.’
      • ‘It's had a great spirit all season long and everybody came through for everybody else.’
  • 2(with reference to the ball in sport) at, to, or over a great distance.

    ‘the Cambridge side played the ball long’
    • ‘Unfortunately we fell into that trap and started just lumping the ball long which isn't our style.’
    • ‘Bristol had a lineout on their own line and hooker Neil McCarthy threw the ball long.’
    • ‘Pete started off on the first tee hitting the ball very long and right down the middle.’
    • ‘Instead, he pulls ten men back and hoofs the ball long, to be chased or held up by a willing workhorse.’
    • ‘The front two had little support other than balls knocked long to alleviate the pressure.’
    1. 2.1Beyond the point aimed at; too far.
      ‘he threw the ball long’
      • ‘Too often Rio Ferdinand looked up and knocked it long because he didn't have an option.’
      • ‘The ball went long and out of play.’
      • ‘The Belgian then began to get flustered and started spraying the balls long and wide.’
      • ‘It was only towards the end that Murray put some real beef into his shots, and then too often the ball flew long or wide.’
      • ‘You can hit the ball harder and take a longer swing while minimizing the risk of sending the ball long.’


  • as (or so) long as

    • 1During the whole time that.

      ‘they have been there as long as anyone can remember’
      • ‘Scotland is a magnificent country which has voted Labour for as long as most of us can remember.’
      • ‘I'm not sure when this one got started, but it has been going on as long as I can remember.’
      • ‘Ever have a picture on the wall, or something on a shelf that seemed to be there for as long as you can remember?’
      • ‘His mother taught six- and seven-year-olds at the local school and had done for as long as he could remember.’
      • ‘Newton's theory of gravity will be used as long as there are scientists on this planet.’
      • ‘There had been no rain in the valley for as long as the children could remember.’
      • ‘He said it was a great day for the town and one he would remember as long as he lived.’
      • ‘Ducks have been part of the village scene in Bledington for as long as anyone can remember.’
      • ‘For as long as I can remember, my home city has had pretensions to be something that it is not.’
      • ‘The first house was empty, boarded up, and had been for as long as the boy could remember.’
    • 2Provided that.

      ‘as long as you fed him, he would be cooperative’
      • ‘There are few moral limits imposed, so long as what happens is between consenting adults.’
      • ‘I don't care what I look like when fishing, so long as I am mobile and, if possible, not too hot or too cold.’
      • ‘Security is not a problem as long as you never give anyone your password or security details.’
      • ‘They don't mind what anyone else does or is - so long as they get equal freedom in return.’
      • ‘The advantage of the essay question is that you can play to your strengths - so long as what you write is relevant.’
      • ‘What we do with our private lives seems not to matter, as long as it doesn't harm anyone else.’
      • ‘These can be a good idea, as long as you remember to revisit your accounts at the end of the bonus period.’
      • ‘The government maintains that it does not matter who provides the services so long as they are publicly funded.’
      • ‘People have the right to live how they choose, so long as they do not place themselves or others in danger.’
      • ‘We are happy for anyone to pick this up as long as it is not used for any commercial purpose.’
  • be long

    • Take a long time to happen or arrive.

      ‘sit down, tea won't be long’
      • ‘It may not be long before Americans see a new English hero.’
      • ‘I'm sure it won't be long before someone decides they really should get that old lotto ticket in their wallet checked out, and finds themselves a little bit richer.’
      • ‘He knew the twelve o'clock train would not be long.’
      • ‘Tell them I won't be long.’
      • ‘It will not be long before you can buy network television programming without ads for a monthly fee.’
  • in the long run

    • Over or after a long period of time; eventually.

      ‘it saves money in the long run’
      • ‘Although bosses admit the changes will cause teething problems they say it will work well in the long run.’
      • ‘As well as improving performance, the new units would also save money in the long run.’
      • ‘Constantly exceeding the normal hours of work is not, in the long run, of benefit to employers.’
      • ‘They may trap you for several years on a variable rate which could prove expensive in the long run.’
      • ‘The earlier you take action, the less money it will cost you in the long run.’
      • ‘I gave up music to do Latin because I thought it would be better in the long run.’
      • ‘The project will both use a renewable source of power as well as save the university money in the long run.’
      • ‘Of course it would be difficult, but the benefits in the long run would be worth it.’
      • ‘Engineering skills are no longer appreciated in this country and we will all suffer in the long run for it.’
      • ‘He said two teachers had already been recruited but they were looking for about ten more in the long run.’
      eventually, in the end, ultimately, when all is said and done, in the final analysis, in the fullness of time
      at the end of the day
      View synonyms
  • long ago

    • In the distant past.

      ‘long ago an unmarried girl was considered her father's property’
      ‘her son died long ago’
      [as modifier] ‘time has marched on since my long-ago youth’
      • ‘The energy is all derived from the photosynthesis of plants long ago.’
      • ‘It might have been part of a pirate or a viking ship long ago.’
      • ‘Long ago, barbers played a prominent role in medicine and dentistry.’
      • ‘It's way too late but these children should have been adopted by capable parents long ago.’
      • ‘Longer ago than I care to remember, I was privileged enough to be elected student union president of my college.’
      • ‘The Andamanese have a number of stories which are told to the younger people by their elders and relate to the doings of their ancestors in a time long ago.’
      • ‘Long ago, marriage was more financially motivated than a matter of the heart.’
      • ‘Long ago when I was in high school, my baseball coach provided "oil of wintergreen" for our sore muscles.’
      • ‘Attempts to transmute other metals to gold may have been made as long ago as the Bronze Age.’
      • ‘Long ago, ice used to be a novelty, shipped across the world in massive chunks carved from frozen lakes and rivers.’
      long ago, bygone
      View synonyms
  • the long and the short of it

    • All that can or need be said.

      ‘the long and short of it is, I must make something or be miserable’
      • ‘Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I have a trial session booked up for Thursday after work.’
      • ‘I'm just somebody serving food and that's the long and the short of it.’
      • ‘Anyway, the long and the short of it is that when the lights go down in the house there are five of us in the audience (in a theatre holding 98), and what we see is absolutely marvellous.’
      • ‘And then the long and the short of it was that we went back to where we stayed and there was no sign of her back there.’
      • ‘Anyway, the long and the short of it is that in the check in line on my way to Germany, I realised I had my Swiss Army Knife in my pocket.’
      • ‘The long and the short of it is that we pay ourselves too well and the cost has to be recouped by service and product providers.’
      • ‘He's shell shocked, is the long and the short of it.’
      • ‘So, the long and the short of it was that twice a day, a swarm of four hundred eleven- to sixteen-year-olds would attempt to cross the busiest road in the south of England by bike.’
      • ‘Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I got a free new modem out of it.’
      • ‘I had some blood tests a couple of weeks ago, to see how the drug has been working and, the long and the short of it is, it hasn't.’
  • long in the tooth

    • Rather old.

      • ‘He assures me he is far too long in the tooth to compete against the current world title holders, who nowadays are in their teens.’
      • ‘After a career in building he decided he was too long in the tooth and looked to something more gentle - funeral directory.’
      • ‘His gaggle of girlfriends all seem suspiciously long in the tooth to qualify as high-school students.’
      • ‘‘I felt we were getting a bit long in the tooth,’ he said.’
      • ‘I'm a bit too long in the tooth to get too worked up about these things any more.’
      • ‘I'm too long in the tooth and I'm too old to be bluffed.’
      • ‘But the car was looking increasingly long in the tooth, despite continuous design improvements.’
      • ‘I'm only 29 so I hope that doesn't make me long in the tooth, I started driving a logging truck when I was 17.’
      • ‘My old home computer was getting a little long in the tooth, so I decided it was time to upgrade to a speedy new machine.’
      • ‘I think I am too long in the tooth to start adopting the dress down policy of many of today's businesses.’
  • long time no see

    • informal It's a long time since we last met (used as a greeting).

      • ‘Sweetie, long time no see, where have you been hiding?’
      • ‘Hey there stranger, long time no see.’
      • ‘‘Oh, hello, Ryan, long time no see,’ Adrienne's father, Michael Moore greeted me when I rang their doorbell.’
      • ‘She was about to pick up one of her bags when she saw Sam looking at her, ‘Hi, long time no see.’’
      • ‘Mark, the instructor who I've mentioned before in a post said hi, and asked where I was… long time no see.’
      • ‘I never stopped to say hello, long time no see.’
      • ‘So nice of you to join us Andrew, long time no see.’
      • ‘Kevin turned around, and smiled politely, ‘Hey Conner, long time no see.’’
      • ‘‘Hello, long time no see,’ Astor remarked to Belinda as the ladies crowded into the somewhat ungenerous dressing room.’
      • ‘‘Hey Zoë, long time no see,’ he greeted casually.’
  • not long ago

    • Recently.

      ‘not long ago he came across a rattlesnake outside his house’
      • ‘Not long ago most economists in the US were lamenting the fact that we had such a low savings rate while Japan had such a high savings rate.’
      • ‘Not long ago a friend of mine moved to Bangalore.’
      • ‘This subject came up not long ago at a dinner party.’
      • ‘This reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend not long ago.’
      • ‘You may not be aware that her father died not long ago.’
      • ‘I did a Washington fundraiser gig not long ago.’
      • ‘Not long ago such a demand would have seemed both radical and unfeasible.’
      • ‘The Foreign Minister spoke to journalists not long ago.’
      • ‘Not long ago, I began rereading the novels of Jane Austen.’
      • ‘Not long ago, bicycles were the main mode of transportation here.’
      not long ago, a short time ago, in the last few days, in the last few months, in the last few weeks, in the past few days, in the past few months, in the past few weeks, a little while back
      View synonyms
  • so long

    • 1Goodbye till we meet again.

      • ‘‘So long!’, Catharine waved goodbye to Audrey as the door closed.’
      • ‘So long, Mother. Be expecting a postcard or two in the mail, if you're lucky.’
      • ‘I just want it to be done with, but I don't want to deal with any of the moving or saying so long stuff.’
      • ‘When she walked out on the Sugababes as they hit the big time, it looked like so long, Siobhan.’
      farewell, adieu
      View synonyms
    • 2In the meanwhile.

      • ‘She wants me to go right now…mind the shop so long, you hear?’
  • take the long view

    • Think beyond the current situation.

      • ‘Conservative strategists taking the long view must already be realizing the next election, generally expected just a few months from now, could turn out disastrously for the new party.’
      • ‘But as a technology publication, we like to take the long view here, and we try to determine the long-term viability of technologies, not just their instant gratification factor.’
      • ‘He came across as the charismatic voice of reason, talking sense and taking the long view.’
      • ‘Rarely do government officials take the long view.’
      • ‘The energy industry has always had to take the long view.’
      • ‘It would seem that in this one unique instance the government is taking the long view.’
      • ‘If history teaches us anything, it's to take the long view.’
      • ‘He had held many of his views since early adulthood, and he took the long view.’
      • ‘As a company we are not taken in by fads, we take the long view.’
      • ‘In the hyperactive world of investing - with its rapid trades and lust for instant wealth - some analysts take the long view.’


Old English lang, long (adjective), lange, longe (adverb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German lang.




Main definitions of long in English

: long1long2



  • Have a strong wish or desire.

    ‘she longed for a little more excitement’
    [with infinitive] ‘we are longing to see the new baby’
    • ‘I longed for my parents to hire a horse-drawn cab instead of a taxi but that did not happen.’
    • ‘There have been moments, many of them, when I have longed to be re-united with it.’
    • ‘She laughs and says she has longed for the ring for a great time and wished to take it.’
    • ‘She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after.’
    • ‘I've always longed for a sweet and affectionate, yet unbelievably cool, nickname.’
    • ‘Oh how I longed for a platform indicator that actually told you when the next train was due, not just where it was going.’
    • ‘How he longed for the summer when they would both jet off to Italy for their special times together.’
    • ‘He played football but longed to be a kick-boxer, a dream that perished on the rock of short and stumpy legs.’
    • ‘I longed for a digital system that would hold the information from the letters and leave paper and dust behind.’
    • ‘Her husband believes she is David's biggest fan and she has longed to meet him since she was a schoolgirl.’
    • ‘I longed to return to the crime narrative to find out what happens next.’
    • ‘I longed to get a steady rhythm going and muttered impatiently that we had a mountain to climb.’
    • ‘They do not understand how much I long for it, how I have longed for it ever since I was a girl.’
    • ‘He longed to know what nobility was exactly, so he could be sure that he had it.’
    • ‘He ached for her and longed to show her that he loved her and that he wouldn't leave her.’
    • ‘Rupert and Robin both hated boarding school and they longed to live at home.’
    • ‘I longed for a bath, clean linen and a bed - any kind of bed that would allow me to stretch and relax.’
    • ‘She longed to see a powerful revival among the neglected and helpless widows of India.’
    • ‘It was not much more than a shack but soon they were joined by local women who had longed for the day when a convent would be opened.’
    • ‘According to what few accounts we have of him he thought the word of his daughter and longed to see her again.’
    yearn, pine, ache, wish, burn, hanker after, hanker for, hunger, thirst, itch, pant, hope, be eager, be desperate, be consumed with desire, be unable to wait, would give one's eye teeth
    crave, need, lust after, dream of, set one's heart on, be bent on, eat one's heart out over, covet
    want, desire, set one's sights on
    have a yen, be dying, yen
    View synonyms


Old English langian ‘grow long, prolong’, also ‘dwell in thought, yearn’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch langen present, offer and German langen reach, extend.