Middle English short, from Old English sceort, scort "of little length; not tall; of brief duration," probably from Proto-Germanic *skurta- (source also of Old Norse skorta "to be short of," skort "shortness;" Old High German scurz "short"), from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut," on the notion of "something cut off."
Compare Sanskrit krdhuh "shortened, maimed, small;" Latin curtus "short," cordus "late-born," originally "stunted in growth;" Old Church Slavonic kratuku, Russian korotkij "short;" Lithuanian skursti "to be stunted," skardus "steep;" Old Irish cert "small," Middle Irish corr "stunted, dwarfish," all considered to be from the same root.
Of memories from mid-14c. The sense of "not up to a required standard or amount" is from late 14c.; that of "not far enough to reach the mark" is by 1540s, in archery; that of "having an insufficient quantity" is from 1690s. The meaning "rude, curt, abrupt" is attested from late 14c. The meaning "easily provoked" is from 1590s; perhaps the notion is of being "not long in tolerating."
Of vowels or syllables, "not prolonged in utterance," late Old English. Of alcoholic drinks, colloquially, "unmixed with water, undiluted," by 1839, so called because served in small measure.
Short rib "asternal rib, one of the lower ribs," which are in general shorter than the upper ones, is from c. 1400. Short fuse in the figurative sense of "quick temper" is attested by 1951. Short run "relatively brief period of time" is from 1879. Short story for "work of prose fiction shorter than a novel" is recorded by 1877. To make short work of "dispose of quickly" is attested from 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.
1580s, the short "the result, the total," from short (adj.). The meaning "electrical short circuit" is by 1906 (see short circuit). The meaning "contraction of a name or phrase" is by 1845 (in for short). The general sense of "whatever is deficient in number, quality, etc." is by 1868.
By 1823 as "a short drink." The 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. By 1929 as "a short film."
c. 1300, from short (adj.). To fall short is from archery. To cut (something) short is by 1590s. To sell short "sell what the seller does not at the time possess" is by 1852.
Old English sceortian "to grow short, become short; run short, fail," from the source of short (adj.). Transitive meaning "make short or shorter" is from late 12c. Meaning "to short-circuit" is by 1904. Related: Shorted; shorting.
also short-circuit, 1854, in electricity, "a shunt connecting two parts of an electric current so as to carry a greater part of it," from short (adj.) + circuit (n.). As a verb, "introduce a shunt of low resistance into an electric current," from 1867; intransitive sense from 1902; in the figurative sense by 1899. Related: Short-circuited; short-circuiting.
also shortchange, "to cheat by giving too little change to," by 1893, American English (implied in short-changed), from adjectival expression short-change (with man, worker, operator, trick, racket, etc.), by 1886, from short (adj.) + change (n.) in the money sense. In late 19c. they were among the shady hangers on of traveling circuses. The noun phrase short change for "insufficient change" is attested by 1850. Related: Short-changing.