Etymology
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shorten (v.)
1510s, "make shorter;" 1560s, "grow shorter," from short (adj.) + -en (1); the earlier form of the verb was simply short, from Old English sceortian "to grow short, become short; run short, fail," gescyrtan "to make short."
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foreshorten (v.)
c. 1600, from fore- + shorten. Related: Foreshortened; foreshortening.
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shortening (n.)
1540s, "action of making short," verbal noun from shorten. Meaning "butter or other fat used in baking" (1796) is from shorten in the sense "make crumbly" (1733), from short (adj.) in the secondary sense of "easily crumbled" (early 15c.), which perhaps arose via the notion of "having short fibers." This is the short in shortbread and shortcake.
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abridge (v.)
Origin and meaning of abridge
c. 1300, abreggen, "make shorter, shorten, condense," from Old French abregier, abrigier "abridge, diminish, shorten" (12c., Modern French abréger), from Late Latin abbreviare "make short," from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + breviare "shorten," from brevis "short, low, little, shallow" (from PIE root *mregh-u- "short").

Abbreviate is the same word directly from Latin. The sound development that turned Latin -vi- to French -dg- is paralleled in assuage (from assuavidare) and deluge (from diluvium). Of writing, "shorten by omission," late 14c. Related: Abridged; abridging.
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syncopate (v.)
c. 1600, "shorten words by omitting syllables or letters in the middle," back-formation from syncopation, or else from Late Latin syncopatus, past participle of syncopare "to shorten," also "to faint away, to swoon," from Late Latin syncope (see syncope). Musical sense is from 1660s. Related: Syncopated; syncopating.
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epitomize (v.)
1590s, "shorten, condense, abridge," from epitome + -ize. Meaning "typify, embody" is from 1620s. Related: Epitomized; epitomizing; epitomizes.
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abbreviate (v.)
Origin and meaning of abbreviate

mid-15c., "to make shorter," from Latin abbreviatus, past participle of abbreviare "to shorten, make brief," from ad "to" (see ad-) + breviare "shorten," from brevis "short, low, little, shallow" (from PIE root *mregh-u- "short").

Specifically of words by 1580s. Also sometimes 15c. abbrevy, from French abrevier (14c.), from Latin abbreviare. Related: Abbreviated; abbreviating.

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draw-string (n.)

string, cord, lace, or rope used to "draw" (gather, or shorten) fabric or other material by 1831, from draw (v.) + string (n.). Also draw-cord (1840); drawing-string (1784).

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little (v.)
Old English lytlian "to lessen, decrease, become little or less, diminish; shorten; fall out of use; belittle," from root of little (adj.).
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contractile (adj.)

"susceptible of contraction," 1706, from French contractile, from Latin contract-, past participle stem of contrahere "to draw several objects together; draw in, shorten," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + trahere "to draw" (see tract (n.1)). Related: Contractility.

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