What does "a little way" mean here?

The girl walked along the top of Great Wall for a little way.


Briefly defined little means 'Small in size, extent, quantity, amount or duration" and "Not great or large."

The word "way" has many definitions in Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language but the one that is almost assuredly applied here is:

"2. Length of space; as a great way; a little way "

In other words, she walked a short (as in to not to any great extent) distance (referring to the interval of space between where she started and stopped walking).

This way of describing it is odd to me but cuter and more intimate in my opinion than the presently more nominal phrase, while still using common and correct words. This is especially since it's a little word to describe a little action by a little girl in a great big place. It is what first sprang to my mind too. That is a sweet sentence.

All referenced definitions are from Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.


It means a short distance. I couldn't find it in the dictionary after a brief search. However, I did find the opposite: quite a ways.

quite a ways (spoken) a long distance

- The Free Dictionary

I think they mean to say a little ways.


I don't think that is used correctly, what I've heard is:

"The girl walked along the top of the Great Wall for a little while."

In this case, the sentence means that she was walking on top of the wall for a short amount of time. Likewise, then, 'little way' would mean for a small distance. She didn't walk the whole wall, she only walked along the top for a small distance.

  • That is what i thought too. Thanks for clarification. – user121201 Jun 19 '15 at 17:00
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    She either walked a little way (no for) along the top of the Great Wall, or she walked there for a little while. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 19 '15 at 17:03
  • Little way is fine too: but obviously, if you walked for a little while or for a long while, that would mean you went with them for a little way or a long way – Hugh Jun 19 '15 at 17:04
  • "Little way" seems fine to me. And the Webster 1828 even uses it as an example. – GEdgar Jun 19 '15 at 20:19

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