Definition of shorten in English:



  • 1Make or become shorter.

    [with object] ‘he shortened his stride’
    ‘patients whose waiting time had been shortened’
    [no object] ‘as skirts shortened, so heels rose’
    ‘around mid September, days shorten and temperatures dip’
    • ‘Because the smocking is done as an insert rather than at the top of the skirt front piece, the skirt length will need to be shortened.’
    • ‘With less flexibility at the hip and ankle, your stride will shorten.’
    • ‘Skirts are observed to shorten in boom times and lengthen during recessions.’
    • ‘Labourers in the sugar fields embarked on a series of strikes to raise their wages, shorten their hours, and withdraw women and children from field work.’
    • ‘Smoking shortens lives; alcohol ruins them too.’
    • ‘Until then, or until such times as the team's injury list shortens, Stark must rely on hope or good fortune to deliver that precious commodity.’
    • ‘The queue moves and shortens and eventually empties out.’
    • ‘Dawson's face brightened considerably when he saw his sister and best friend, and immediately he stood, striding to shorten the gap between them.’
    • ‘Last year, as his foot and ankle pain increased, he shortened his stride significantly, making it easier for defenders to trip him up.’
    • ‘Elevating the heels only serves to shorten the calf muscles in the long term and will alter the body's posture and mechanics.’
    • ‘In the fall and as winter approaches, the days shorten and temperatures drop.’
    • ‘Do you think Setta needs to shorten his stride when approaching the ball on field goals?’
    • ‘At the moment it is legal for doctors to administer large doses of drugs to terminally ill patients in pain and distress, knowing that the medication shortens their lives.’
    • ‘After 1900, everyday skirts were increasingly shortened to allow the shape and action of women's legs to form part of their complete clothed image.’
    • ‘The days are shortening and we see less of the sun, but temperatures have stayed high enough to prolong the blooming of even tender specimens such as dahlias and impatiens, which would succumb overnight to a frost.’
    • ‘Every cigarette shortens your life by 14 minutes’
    • ‘It's how you cope with the injuries that either extends or shortens your career.’
    • ‘When the days start to shorten and night temperatures dip, do you often look over longingly at your neighbor's greenhouse, wishing you too could keep plants producing into the fall?’
    • ‘The stairwell is double height so that shortens any floorspace on the first floor as well.’
    • ‘Other community groups complain that construction companies don't take the proper care around the trees, which also shortens their lives.’
    get shorter, grow shorter, grow less, contract, compress, shrink
    make shorter, abbreviate, abridge, condense, precis, synopsize, contract, compress, reduce, lessen, shrink, decrease, diminish, cut, cut down, cut short, dock, trim, clip, crop, pare down, prune
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    1. 1.1(with reference to gambling odds) make or become shorter; decrease.
      [with object] ‘Ladbrokes shortened Nashwan's odds from 2–1 to 7–4’
      [no object] ‘the odds had shortened to 14–1’
      • ‘As we went to press, his odds had shortened to 25-1 to win the Tour de France.’
      • ‘Bookmaker William Hill reported more bets than ever for the annual festive flutter and shortened the odds.’
      • ‘But counting the odds never shortened them, and he sighed and shook himself.’
      • ‘But the horse's fame has spread since, so the odds have shortened.’
      • ‘This shortens the odds for the other pub winners as far as the grand prize of a digital camera goes with two absentee winners not going into the draw.’
    2. 1.2Phonetics Prosody [with object]Make (a vowel or syllable) short.
      ‘the preceding vowels are shortened’
      • ‘Leaving Rome and heading south or east, you find a tendency of shortening non-stressed vowels and reducing them to schwas.’
  • 2Sailing
    [with object] Reduce the amount of (sail spread)

    ‘before sail could be shortened she went on to her beam ends’
    • ‘He hung a lamp on the mast and shortened the sail, but it was past midnight when Setisia retired to the cabin.’