"little, of small size," usually of a woman or girl, 1784 (from 1712 in French phrases taken into English), from French petite, fem. of petit "little" (see petit). As a size in women's clothing, attested from 1929.
1707, "body of freemen in a French town," hence, "the French middle class," also extended to that of other countries, from French bourgeois, from Old French burgeis, borjois (12c.) "town dweller" (as distinct from "peasant"), from borc "town, village," from Frankish *burg "city" (from PIE root *bhergh- (2) "high," with derivatives referring to hills and hill-forts). Communist use for "the capitalist class generally" attested from 1886.
It forms all or part of: barrow (n.2) "mound, hill, grave-mound;" belfry; borough; bourgeoisie; burg; burgess; burgher; burglar; faubourg; iceberg.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit b'rhant "high," brmhati "strengthens, elevates;" Avestan brzant- "high," Old Persian bard- "be high;" Greek Pergamos, name of the citadel of Troy; Old Church Slavonic bregu "mountain, height;" Old Irish brigh "mountain;" Welsh bera "stack, pyramid."
Old English lytel "not large, not much, small in size or number; short in distance or time; unimportant,"
from Proto-Germanic *lutilla- (source also of Old Saxon luttil, Dutch luttel, Old High German luzzil, German lützel "little"), perhaps originally a diminutive of the root of Old English lyt "little, few," from PIE *leud- "small."
"Often synonymous with small, but capable of emotional implications which small is not" [OED]. Now with less, least, but formerly and in dialect littler, littlest. In terms of endearment from 1560s. Meaning "younger" (of a brother, sister, etc.) is from 1610s. As an adverb, Old English lytel.
Little while "a short time" is from 12c. Phrase the little woman "wife" attested from 1795. Little people "the faeries" is from 1726; as "children" it is attested from 1752; as "ordinary people" (opposed to the great) from 1827. Little death "orgasm" (1932) translates French petite mort. Little Neck clams (1884) are so called for Little Neck, a "neck" of land on Long Island's North Shore, where they first came into favor. Little green men "space aliens" is from 1950. Little boys' room (or girls') as a euphemism for "lavatory" is from 1957. Little breeches for "boy" is by 1785. Little black dress is from 1939.
At the beginning of summer, smart women who stay in town like to wear sheer "little black dresses." Because most "little black dresses" look alike, retailers struggle each year to find something which will make them seem new. [Life magazine, June 13, 1939]