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).
  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.