Etymology: Middle English smal, from Old English smæl; akin to Old High German smal small, Greek mēlon small domestic animal
Date: before 12th century
a. having comparatively little size or slight dimensions
a. minor in influence, power, or rank
b. operating on a limited scale
3. lacking in strength <a small voice> 4. a. little or close to zero in an objectively measurable aspect (as quantity, amount, or value) b. made up of few or little units 5. a. of little consequence ; trivial, insignificant <a small problem> b. humble, modest <a small beginning> 6. limited in degree 7. a. mean, petty b. reduced to a humiliating position • smallish adjective • smallness noun Synonyms: small, little, diminutive, minute, tiny, miniature mean noticeably below average in size. small and little are often interchangeable, but small applies more to relative size determined by capacity, value, number <a relatively small backyard>. little is more absolute in implication often carrying the idea of petiteness, pettiness, insignificance, or immaturity <your pathetic little smile>. diminutive implies abnormal smallness <diminutive bonsai plants>. minute implies extreme smallness <a minute amount of caffeine in the soda>. tiny is an informal equivalent to minute <tiny cracks formed in the painting>. miniature applies to an exactly proportioned reproduction on a very small scale <a dollhouse with miniature furnishings>. II. adverb Date: before 12th century 1. in or into small pieces 2. without force or loudness <speak as small as you will — Shakespeare> 3. in a small manner III. noun Date: 14th century 1. a part smaller and especially narrower than the remainder <the small of the back> 2. a. plural small-sized products b. plural, chiefly British smallclothes; especially underwear
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.