short / shôrt/ • adj. 1. measuring a small distance from end to end: short, dark hair a short flight of steps the bed was too short for him. ∎ (of a journey) covering a small distance: the hotel is a short walk from the sea. ∎ (of a garment or sleeves on a garment) only covering the top part of a person's arms or legs: a short skirt. ∎ (of a person) small in height: he is short and tubby. ∎ (of a ball in cricket, a shot in tennis, etc.) traveling only a small distance before bouncing: he uses his opportunities to attack every short ball. ∎ short for shortstop.2. lasting or taking a small amount of time: visiting London for a short break a short conversation. ∎ seeming to last less time than is the case; passing quickly: in 10 short years all this changed. ∎ (of a person's memory) retaining things for only a small amount of time: he has a short memory for past misdeeds. ∎ Stock Market (of stocks or other securities or commodities) sold in advance of being acquired, with reliance on the price falling so that a profit can be made. ∎ Stock Market (of a broker, position in the market, etc.) buying or based on such stocks or other securities or commodities. ∎ denoting or having a relatively early date for the maturing of a bill of exchange.3. relatively small in extent: a short speech he wrote a short book. ∎ (short of/on) not having enough of (something); lacking or deficient in: they were short of provisions I know you're short on cash. ∎ in insufficient supply: food is short. ∎ (of a person) terse; uncivil: he was often sharp and rather short with her.4. Phonet. (of a vowel) categorized as short with regard to quality and length (e.g., in standard British English the vowel in good is short as distinct from the long vowel in food). ∎ Prosody (of a vowel or syllable) having the lesser of the two recognized durations.5. (of odds or a chance) reflecting or representing a high level of probability: they have been backed at short odds to win thousands.6. (of pastry) containing a high proportion of fat to flour and therefore crumbly. ∎ (of clay) having poor plasticity.• adv. (chiefly in sports) at, to, or over a relatively small distance: you go deep and you go short. ∎ not as far as the point aimed at; not far enough: all too often you pitch the ball short.• n. 1. Brit., inf. a strong alcoholic drink, esp. spirits, served in small measures.2. a short film as opposed to a feature film. ∎ a short sound such as a short signal in Morse code or a short vowel or syllable: her call was two longs and a short. ∎ a short circuit.3. Stock Market a person who sells short. ∎ (shorts) Stock Market short-dated stocks.4. (shorts) a mixture of bran and coarse flour.• v. short-circuit or cause to short-circuit: [intr.] the electrical circuit had shorted out | [tr.] if the contact terminals are shorted, the battery quickly overheats. PHRASES: be caught (or Brit. taken) short be put at a disadvantage: the troubled company has been caught short by price competition in a recession-stricken market.two bricks short of a load, an oar short of a pair, etc. inf. (of a person) stupid; crazy: she's two bricks short of a load.bring (or pull) someone up short make someone check or pause abruptly: he was entering the office when he was brought up short by the sight of John.come short fail to reach a goal or standard: we're so close to getting the job done, but we keep coming up short. ∎ S. Afr. get into trouble: if you try to trick him you'll come short.for short as an abbreviation or nickname: the File Transfer Protocol, or ftp for short.get (or have) someone by the short hairs inf. have complete control of a person.go short not have enough of something, esp. food: you won't go short when I die.in short to sum up; briefly: he was a faithful, orthodox party member; a Stalinist in short.in short order immediately; rapidly: after the killing the camp had been shut down in short order.in the short run in the near future.in short supply scarce.in the short term in the near future.little (or nothing) short of almost (or equal to); little (or nothing) less than: he regarded the cost of living as little short of scandalous.make short work of accomplish, consume, or destroy quickly: we made short work of our huge portions.short and sweet brief and pleasant: his comments were short and sweet.the short end of the stick an outcome in which one has less advantage than others.short for an abbreviation or nickname for: I'm Robbie—short for Roberta.short of less than: he died at sixty-one, four years short of his pensionable age. ∎ not reaching as far as: a rocket failure left a satellite tumbling in an orbit far short of its proper position. ∎ without going so far as (some extreme action): short of putting out an all-persons alert, there's little else we can do.short of breath panting; short-winded.short, sharp shocksee shock1 .stop short stop suddenly or abruptly.stop short of not go as far as (some extreme action): the measures stopped short of establishing direct trade links.DERIVATIVES: short·ish adj.short·ness n.
the short end of the stick an outcome in which one has less advantage than others.
a short horse is soon curried proverbial saying, mid 14th century; meaning that a slight task is soon completed (literally, that it does not take long to rub down a short horse with a curry-comb).
Short Parliament the first of two parliaments summoned by Charles I in 1640 (the other being the Long Parliament). Due to its insistence on seeking a general redress of grievances against him before granting the money he required, Charles dismissed it after only three weeks.
short reckonings make long friends proverbial saying, mid 16th century; meaning that the prompt settlement of any debt between friends ensures that their friendship will not be damaged.
short, sharp shock a brief but harsh custodial sentence handed down to an offender in an attempt to discourage them from committing further offences. The term attained a high profile in the UK in the early 1980s, following a recommendation to the 1979 Conservative Party Conference of the introduction of a regime of this kind to be applied to young offenders.
short shrift rapid and unsympathetic dismissal; curt treatment; the phrase originally meant little time for a criminal to make his confession and be shriven (confessed and absolved) between condemnation and execution or punishment.
See also art is long and life is short, draw the short straw.