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See also: Shorten



From Middle English shortnen, schortenen, equivalent to short +‎ -en (verbal suffix). In some senses, a continuation (in altered form) of Middle English schorten (to make short, shorten), from Old English sċortian (to become short), from Proto-Germanic *skurtōną (to shorten).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈʃɔːtən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈʃɔɹtən/
  • (file)


shorten (third-person singular simple present shortens, present participle shortening, simple past and past participle shortened)

  1. (transitive) To make shorter; to abbreviate.
    • 1877, Anna Sewell, Black Beauty Chapter 22[1]
      York came round to our heads and shortened the rein himself, one hole I think; every little makes a difference, be it for better or worse, and that day we had a steep hill to go up.
  2. (intransitive) To become shorter.
  3. (transitive) To make deficient (as to); to deprive (of).
    • 1697, “Aeneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432:
      Spoiled of his nose, and shorten'd of his ears.
  4. (transitive) To make short or friable, as pastry, with butter, lard, etc.
  5. (transitive) To reduce or diminish in amount, quantity, or extent; to lessen.
    to shorten an allowance of food
    • 1699, John Dryden, Dedication to His Grace the Duke of Ormond
      Here, where the subject is so fruitful, I am shortened by my chain.
    • 1858, George Borrow, The Romany Rye (volume 2, page 128)
      My grandfather, as I said before, was connected with a gang of shorters, and sometimes shortened money, []
  6. (nautical, transitive) To take in the slack of (a rope).
  7. (nautical, transitive) To reduce (sail) by taking it in.