Etymology
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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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Definitions of shortening

shortening (n.)
fat such as butter or lard used in baked goods;
shortening (n.)
act of decreasing in length;
the dress needs shortening
From wordnet.princeton.edu