Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of low
Meaning of low by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • ( RP ) IPA: /ləʊ/
    • ( US ) IPA: /loʊ/
    • Rhymes: -əʊ ( Etymologies 1 & 2 only )

    Etymology 1

    From Middle English lowe, lohe, lāh, from Old Norse lāgr ( “low” ), from Proto-Germanic *lēgaz ( “lying, flat, situated near the ground, low” ), from Proto-Indo-European *legʰ- ( “to lie” ). Cognate with Scots laich ( “low” ), Low German leg ( “low, feeble, bad” ), Danish lav ( “low” ), Icelandic lágur ( “low” ), West Frisian leech ( “low” ), North Frisian leeg, liig ( “low” ), Dutch laag ( “low” ), German läge ( “lying, low” ). More at lie .


    low ( comparative lower, superlative lowest )

    1. In a position comparatively close to the ground .
    2. Small in height .
    3. Situated below the normal level, or the mean elevation .
    4. Depressed, sad .
    5. In an amount nearest to zero, such as low prices; depleted; substandard;
    6. Of a pitch, suggesting a lower frequency .
      Generally, European men have lower voices than their Indian counterparts .
    7. Of a loudness, suggesting a lower amplitude .
      They spoke in low voices so I would not hear what they were saying .
    8. Despicable; lacking dignity; vulgar .
      Now that was low even for you!
    9. Lacking health or vitality .
    10. Being near the equator .
    11. Humble in character or status .
    12. Simple in complexity or development .
    13. Designed for the slowest speed, as in low gear .
    14. Articulated with a wide space between the flat tongue and the palette .
    Related terms
    • Low German
    • Low Latin


    low ( plural: lows )

    1. Something that is low .
      You have achieved a new low in behavior, Frank .
      Economic growth has hit a new low .
    2. A depressed mood or situation .
      He is in a low right now
    3. ( meteorology ) An area of low pressure; a depression .
    4. The lowest-speed gearing of a power-transmission system, especially of an automotive vehicle .
      Shift out of low before the car gets to eight miles per hour .


    low ( comparative lower, superlative lowest )

    1. Close to the ground .
    2. Of a pitch, at a lower frequency .
    3. Of a loudness, at a lower amplitude .


    low ( third-person singular simple present lows present participle lowing, simple past and past participle lowed )

    1. ( obsolete, transitive ) To depress; to lower .
      ( Can we find and add a quotation of Jonathan Swift to this entry? )

    Etymology 2

    From Middle English, from Old English hlōg, preterite of hliehhan ( “to laugh” ). More at laugh .

    Etymology 3

    From Middle English lowen ( “to low” ), from Old English hlōwan ( “to low, bellow, roar” ), from Proto-Germanic *hlōanan ( “to call, shout” ), from Proto-Indo-European *( s )kale-, *klā-, *klē- ( “to shout, call” ). Cognate with Dutch loeien ( “to low” ), Middle High German lüejen ( “to roar” ), Swedish dialectal lumma ( “to roar” ), Latin calō ( “I call” ), Ancient Greek καλέω ( kaleō ), Latin clāmō ( “I shout, claim” ). More at claim .

    Etymology 4

    From Middle English lowe, loghe, from Old Norse logi ( “fire, flame, sword” ), from Proto-Germanic *lugô ( “flame, blaze” ), from Proto-Indo-European *leuk- ( “light” ). Cognate with Icelandic logi ( “flame” ), Swedish låga ( “flame” ), Danish lue ( “flame” ), German Lohe ( “blaze, flames” ), North Frisian leag ( “fire, flame” ), Old English līeġ ( “fire, flame, lightning” ). More at leye, light .

    Alternative form


    • enPR: lou, IPA: /laʊ/, X-SAMPA: /laU/
    • Rhymes: -aʊ


    low ( plural: lows )

    1. ( countable ) A flame; fire; blaze .

    Etymology 5

    From Old English hlāw, hlǣw ( “burial mound” ). Obsolete by the 19th century, survives in toponymy as -low .


    low ( plural: lows )

    1. ( archaic or obsolete ) barrow, mound, tumulus
      A barrow or Low, such as were usually cast up over the bodies of eminent Captains. ( Robert Plot, The natural history of Staffordshire, 1686; cited after OED ) .
    2. ( Scottish dialectal, archaic ) a hill
      And some they brought the brown lint-seed, and flung it down from the Low. ( Mary Howitt, Ballads and other poems 1847 )


    • frequency based on Project Gutenberg corpus">Most common English words before 1923: laid · cold · led · #518: low · American · bad · forward


    • owl

Explanation of low by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. make a low noise, characteristic of bovines

    1. in a low position

    2. the branches hung low
    1. filled with melancholy and despondency

    2. of the most contemptible kind

    3. a low stunt to pull
      a low-down sneak
    4. literal meanings

    5. low ceilings
      low clouds
      low hills
      the sun is low
      low furniture
      a low bow
    6. less than normal in degree or intensity or amount

    7. low prices
      the reservoir is low
    8. used of sounds and voices

    9. very low in volume

    10. a low murmur
      the low-toned murmur of the surf
    11. subdued or brought low in condition or status

    12. brought low
    13. unrefined in character

    14. low comedy
    15. no longer sufficient

    16. supplies are low
    17. low or inferior in station or quality

    18. a lowly parish priest
    1. the lowest forward gear ratio in the gear box of a motor vehicle

    2. a low level or position or degree

    3. the stock market fell to a new low
    4. British political cartoonist ( born in New Zealand ) who created the character Colonel Blimp ( 1891-1963 )

    5. an air mass of lower pressure

    6. a low moved in over night bringing sleet and snow

    Definition of low by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Low obs. strong imp. of Laugh. Chaucer.

    2. Low ( lō ), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Lowed ( lōd ); p. pr. & vb. n. Lowing.] [OE. lowen, AS. hlōwan; akin to D. loeijen, OHG. hlōjan, hluojan.] To make the calling sound of cows and other bovine animals; to moo.

      The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea. Gray.

    3. Low, n. The calling sound ordinarily made by cows and other bovine animals.

      Talking voices and the law of herds. Wordsworth.

    4. Low, n. [AS. hlāw; akin to Goth. hlaiw a grave, hlains a hill, and to E. lean to incline.] A hill; a mound; a grave. [Obs. except in place names.] Skeat.

    5. Low ( lō; Scot. lou ), n. [Icel. log, logi; akin to E. light, n.] Fire; a flame; a light. [Scot. & Prov. Eng.]

    6. Low, v. i. To burn; to blaze. [Prov. Eng. & Scot.] Burns.

    7. Low ( lō ), a. [Compar. Lower ( lōẽr ); superl. Lowest.] [OE. low, louh, lah, Icel. lāgr; akin to Sw. låg, Dan. lav, D. laag, and E. lie. See Lie to be prostrate.]

      1. Occupying an inferior position or place; not high or elevated; depressed in comparison with something else; as, “low ground; a low flight.”

      2. Not rising to the usual height; as, “a man of low stature; a low fence.”

      3. Near the horizon; as, “the sun is low at four o'clock in winter, and six in summer”.

      4. Sunk to the farthest ebb of the tide; as, “low tide”.

      5. Beneath the usual or remunerative rate or amount, or the ordinary value; moderate; cheap; as, “the low price of corn; low wages.”

      6. Not loud; as, “a low voice; a low sound.”

      7. ( Mus. ) Depressed in the scale of sounds; grave; as, “a low pitch; a low note.”

      8. ( Phon. ) Made, as a vowel, with a low position of part of the tongue in relation to the palate; as, “ă ( ăm ), a ( all )”. See Guide to Pronunciation, §§ 5, 10, 11.

      9. Near, or not very distant from, the equator; as, “in the low northern latitudes”.

      10. Numerically small; as, “a low number”.

      11. Wanting strength or animation; depressed; dejected; as, “low spirits; low in spirits.”

      12. Depressed in condition; humble in rank; as, “men of low condition; the lower classes.”

      Why but to keep ye low and ignorant ? Milton.

      13. Mean; vulgar; base; dishonorable; as, “a person of low mind; a low trick or stratagem.”

      14. Not elevated or sublime; not exalted in thought or diction; as, “a low comparison”.

      In comparison of these divine writers, the noblest wits of the heathen world are low and dull. Felton.

      15. Submissive; humble. “Low reverence.” Milton.

      16. Deficient in vital energy; feeble; weak; as, “a low pulse; made low by sickness.”

      17. Moderate; not intense; not inflammatory; as, “low heat; a low temperature; a low fever.”

      18. Smaller than is reasonable or probable; as, “a low estimate”.

      19. Not rich, high seasoned, or nourishing; plain; simple; as, “a low diet”.

      ☞ Low is often used in the formation of compounds which require no special explanation; as, low-arched, low-browed, low-crowned, low-heeled, low-lying, low-priced, low-roofed, low-toned, low-voiced, and the like.

      Low Church. See High Church, under High. -- Low Countries, the Netherlands. -- Low German, Low Latin, etc. See under German, Latin, etc. -- Low life, humble life. -- Low milling, a process of making flour from grain by a single grinding and by siftings. -- Low relief. See Bas-relief. -- Low side window ( Arch. ), a peculiar form of window common in mediæval churches, and of uncertain use. Windows of this sort are narrow, near the ground, and out of the line of the windows, and in many different situations in the building. -- Low spirits, despondency. -- Low steam, steam having a low pressure. -- Low steel, steel which contains only a small proportion of carbon, and can not be hardened greatly by sudden cooling. -- Low Sunday, the Sunday next after Easter; -- popularly so called. -- Low tide, the farthest ebb of the tide; the tide at its lowest point; low water. -- Low water. The lowest point of the ebb tide; a low stage of the in a river, lake, etc. ( Steam Boiler ) The condition of an insufficient quantity of water in the boiler. -- Low water alarm or Low water indicator ( Steam Boiler ), a contrivance of various forms attached to a boiler for giving warning when the water is low. -- Low water mark, that part of the shore to which the waters recede when the tide is the lowest. Bouvier. -- Low wine, a liquor containing about 20 percent of alcohol, produced by the first distillation of wash; the first run of the still; -- often in the plural.

    8. Low, n. ( Card Playing ) The lowest trump, usually the deuce; the lowest trump dealt or drawn.

    9. Low, adv.
      1. In a low position or manner; not aloft; not on high; near the ground.

      2. Under the usual price; at a moderate price; cheaply; as, “he sold his wheat low”.

      3. In a low or mean condition; humbly; meanly.

      4. In time approaching our own.

      In that part of the world which was first inhabited, even as low down as Abraham's time, they wandered with their flocks and herds. Locke.

      5. With a low voice or sound; not loudly; gently; as, “to speak low”. Addison.

      The . . . odorous wind

      Breathes low between the sunset and the moon. Tennyson.

      6. With a low musical pitch or tone.

      Can sing both high and low. Shak.

      7. In subjection, poverty, or disgrace; as, “to be brought low by oppression, by want, or by vice”. Spenser.

      8. ( Astron. ) In a path near the equator, so that the declination is small, or near the horizon, so that the altitude is small; -- said of the heavenly bodies with reference to the diurnal revolution; as, “the moon runs low, that is, is comparatively near the horizon when on or near the meridian”.

    10. Low v. t. To depress; to lower. [Obs.] Swift.