sell short

sell short

adjective, short·er, short·est.

  1. having little length; not long.
  2. having little height; not tall: a short man.
  3. extending or reaching only a little way: a short path.
  4. brief in duration; not extensive in time: a short wait.
  5. brief or concise, as writing.
  6. rudely brief; abrupt; hurting: short behavior.
  7. low in amount; scanty: short rations.
  8. not reaching a point, mark, target, or the like; not long enough or far enough.
  9. below the standard in extent, quantity, duration, etc.: short measure.
  10. having a scanty or insufficient amount of (often followed by in or on): He was short in experience.
  11. being below a necessary or desired level; lacking: The office is short due to winter colds and flu.
  12. Cookery.
    1. (of pastry and the like) crisp and flaky; breaking or crumbling readily from being made with a large proportion of butter or other shortening.
    2. (of dough) containing a relatively large amount of shortening.
  13. (of metals) deficient in tenacity; friable; brittle.
  14. (of the head or skull) of less than ordinary length from front to back.
  15. Stock Exchange.
    1. not possessing at the time of sale commodities or stocks that one sells.
    2. noting or pertaining to a sale of commodities or stocks that the seller does not possess, depending for profit on a decline in prices.
  16. Phonetics.
    1. lasting a relatively short time: “Bit” has a shorter vowel-sound than “bid” or “bead.”
    2. belonging to a class of sounds considered as usually shorter in duration than another class, as the vowel of but as compared to that of bought, and in many languages serving as a distinctive feature of phonemes, as the a in German Bann in contrast with the ah in Bahn, or the t in Italian fato in contrast with the tt in fatto (opposed to long).
    3. having the sound of the English vowels in bat, bet, bit, hot, but, and put, historically descended from vowels that were short in duration.
  17. Prosody.
    1. (of a syllable in quantitative verse) lasting a relatively shorter time than a long syllable.
    2. unstressed(def 1).
  18. (of an alcoholic drink) small: a short drink.
  19. Chiefly British. (of whiskey) undiluted; straight.
  20. Ceramics. (of clay) not plastic enough to be modeled.
  21. Ropemaking. hard(def 39).


  1. abruptly or suddenly: to stop short.
  2. briefly; curtly.
  3. on the near side of an intended or particular point: The arrow landed short.
  4. Baseball.
    1. with the hands higher on the handle of the bat than usual: He held the bat short and flied out.
    2. in a fielding position closer to home plate than usual.


  1. something that is short.
  2. that which is deficient or lacking.
  3. the sum and substance of a matter; gist (usually preceded by the).
  4. shorts,
    1. trousers, knee-length or shorter.
    2. short pants worn by men as an undergarment.
    3. knee breeches, formerly worn by men.
    4. Finance.short-term bonds.
    5. Mining.crushed ore failing to pass through a given screen, thus being of a larger given size than a specific grade.Compare fine1(def 28a).
    6. remnants, discards, or refuse of various cutting and manufacturing processes.
  5. a size of garment for men who are shorter than average: He wears a 42 short.
  6. a garment, as a suit or overcoat, in such a size.
  7. Military. a shot that strikes or bursts short of the target.
  8. Electricity. short circuit.
  9. Prosody. a short sound or syllable.
  10. Baseball. shortstop(def 1).
  11. Movies. short subject.
  12. Finance. short seller.
  13. a deficiency or the amount of a deficiency.
  14. Chiefly British. a small drink of straight whiskey; shot.

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause a short circuit in.
  2. to cheat by giving less than is expected or deserved; shortchange.

verb (used without object)

  1. to short-circuit.


  1. cut short, to end abruptly; terminate: Her nap was cut short by a loud noise from outside.
  2. fall/come short,
    1. to fail to reach a particular standard.
    2. to prove insufficient; be lacking: Her funds fell short, and she had to wire home for help.
  3. for short, by way of abbreviation: Her name is Patricia, and she’s called Pat for short.
  4. in short,
    1. in summary.
    2. in few words; in brief: In short, this has been rather a disappointing day.
  5. make short work of. work(def 53).
  6. run short, to be in insufficient supply: My patience is running short.
  7. sell short,
    1. Stock sell stocks or the like without having them in one’s actual possession at the time of the sale.
    2. to disparage or underestimate: Don’t sell Tom short; he’s really an excellent engineer.
  8. short and sweet,
    1. pleasantly brief.
    2. pertinent: We’re in a hurry, so make it short and sweet.
  9. short for, being a shorter form of; abbreviated to: “Phone” is short for “telephone.”
  10. short of,
    1. less than; inferior to.
    2. inadequately supplied with (money, food, etc.).
    3. without going to the length of; failing of; excluding: Short of murder, there is nothing he wouldn’t have tried to get what he wanted.


  1. of little length; not long
  2. of little height; not tall
  3. of limited duration
  4. not meeting a requirement; deficientthe number of places laid at the table was short by four
  5. (postpositive; often foll by of or on) lacking (in) or needful (of)I’m always short of money
  6. concise; succinct
  7. lacking in the power of retentivenessa short memory
  8. abrupt to the point of rudenessthe salesgirl was very short with him
  9. finance
    1. not possessing the securities or commodities that have been sold under contract and therefore obliged to make a purchase before the delivery date
    2. of or relating to such sales, which depend on falling prices for profit
  10. phonetics
    1. denoting a vowel of relatively brief temporal duration
    2. classified as short, as distinguished from other vowels. Thus in English (ɪ) in bin, though of longer duration than () in beat, is nevertheless regarded as a short vowel
    3. (in popular usage) denoting the qualities of the five English vowels represented orthographically in the words pat, pet, pit, pot, put, and putt
  11. prosody
    1. denoting a vowel that is phonetically short or a syllable containing such a vowel. In classical verse short vowels are followed by one consonant only or sometimes one consonant plus a following l or r
    2. (of a vowel or syllable in verse that is not quantitative) not carrying emphasis or accent; unstressed
  12. (of pastry) crumbly in textureSee also shortcrust pastry
  13. (of a drink of spirits) undiluted; neat
  14. (of betting odds) almost even
  15. have someone by the short and curlies informal to have (someone) completely in one’s power
  16. in short supply scarce
  17. short and sweet unexpectedly brief
  18. short for an abbreviation for


  1. abruptlyto stop short
  2. briefly or concisely
  3. rudely or curtly
  4. finance without possessing the securities or commodities at the time of their contractual saleto sell short
  5. caught short or taken short having a sudden need to urinate or defecate
  6. fall short
    1. to prove inadequate
    2. (often foll by of)to fail to reach or measure up to (a standard)
  7. go short not to have a sufficient amount, etc
  8. short of exceptnothing short of a miracle can save him now


  1. anything that is short
  2. a drink of spirits as opposed to a long drink such as beer
  3. phonetics prosody a short vowel or syllable
  4. finance
    1. a short contract or sale
    2. a short seller
  5. a short film, usually of a factual nature
  6. See short circuit (def. 1)
  7. for short informal as an abbreviationhe is called Jim for short
  8. in short
    1. as a summary
    2. in a few words


  1. See short circuit (def. 2)

adj.Old English sceort, scort “short, not long, not tall; brief,” probably from Proto-Germanic *skurta- (cf. Old Norse skorta “to be short of,” skort “shortness;” Old High German scurz “short”), from PIE root *(s)ker- (1) “to cut,” with notion of “something cut off” (cf. Sanskrit krdhuh “shortened, maimed, small;” Latin curtus “short,” cordus “late-born,” originally “stunted in growth;” Old Church Slavonic kratuku, Russian korotkij “short;” Lithuanian skurstu “to be stunted,” skardus “steep;” Old Irish cert “small,” Middle Irish corr “stunted, dwarfish”). Meaning “having an insufficient quantity” is from 1690s. Meaning “rude” is attested from late 14c. Meaning “easily provoked” is from 1590s; perhaps the notion is of being “not long in tolerating.” Short fuse in figurative sense of “quick temper” first attested 1968. To fall short is from archery. Short run “relatively brief period of time” is from 1879. Short story first recorded 1877. To make short work of “dispose of quickly” is first attested 1570s. Phrase short and sweet is from 1530s. To be short by the knees (1733) was to be kneeling; to be short by the head (1540s) was to be beheaded. n.1580s, the short “the result, the total,” from short (adj.). Meaning “electrical short circuit” first recorded 1906 (see short circuit). Meaning “contraction of a name or phrase” is from 1873 (as in for short). Slang meaning “car” is attested from 1897; originally “street car,” so called because street cars (or the rides taken in them) were “shorter” than railroad cars. v.Old English sceortian “to grow short, become short; run short, fail,” from the source of short (adj.). Transitive meaning “make short” is from late 12c. Meaning “to short-circuit” is by 1904. Related: Shorted; shorting. 1Contract for the sale of securities or commodities one expects to own at a later date and at a lower price, as in Selling short runs the risk of a market rise, forcing one to pay more than one expected. [Mid-1800s] 2sell someone short. Underestimate the true value or worth of someone, as in Don’t sell her short; she’s a very able lawyer. [First half of 1900s] In addition to the idioms beginning with short

  • short and sweet
  • short end of the stick, the
  • short for
  • short haul
  • short notice, on
  • short of
  • short order
  • short run
  • short shrift, give
  • also see:

  • by the short hairs
  • caught short
  • cut short
  • fall short
  • for short
  • in brief (short)
  • in short order
  • in short supply
  • in the long (short) run
  • life is too short
  • long and short of it
  • long (short) haul
  • make a long story short
  • make short work of
  • nothing short of
  • run short
  • sell short
  • stop short
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