In the context of a computer user interface manual, what word would you use to complete this sentence:

Drag the handle at the bottom-right corner to enlarge or __ the window.

To me, "shrink", "diminish", and "reduce" all feel wrong in this context. Is there a better word? (Or would one of those work if I changed the word "enlarge" to something else?)

  • 3
    How about just rephrasing to "Drag the handle at the bottom-right corner to make the window larger or smaller"?
    – MT_Head
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 22:19
  • 11
    Even simpler: "...to resize the window". That's what everyone else says. OP is just being needlessly verbose. Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 22:30
  • 2
    ...apropos which, since window resizing is pretty much standard on all UI's nowadays, why mention it at all. Is this manual going to explain how to 'drag' the handle? Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 22:32
  • 3
    Disembiggen, perhaps?
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 23:11
  • @callum: What, don't you ever say "ensmall"? :P
    – user541686
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 0:46

9 Answers 9


There's nothing wrong with using "shrink" as an antonym for "enlarge" in this context. If "enlarge" bothers you, you might try pairing "shrink" with "expand".


The antonyms are reduce or shrink, depending on the meaning. For example if the space is enlarged, it may be reduced to its initial size.


"ensmall" perhaps? Shrink is the correct word, it shouldn't feel wrong.

  • 7
    Ensmall is a common error. The word is ensmallen. It's the opposite of embiggen. And yes, they're both perfectly cromulent words.
    – bye
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 22:50
  • +1 for Shrink: I think that it sounds more correct than ensmallen.
    – dag729
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 23:30
  • unlarge opposite of enlarge
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 15:26
  • Although "ensmall" seems to be paired well with "enlarge", this word does not actually exist in English.
    – Victor
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 6:42

What about switching the words around? Even though I agree "to enlarge or shrink the window" sounds funny, I think "to shrink or enlarge the window" sounds fine. It rolls off the tongue better - I'm guessing because of the way the vowels and consonants tie together.

'To enlarge or shrink the' has the combinations "oe, eo, rsh, and kth", whereas 'To shrink or enlarge the' has the combinations "osh, ko, re, and eth". It's hard to explain without drawing it but I hope you see what I'm getting at.

Many languages - such as Japanese, French, and Italian - tend to go vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel, etc., which allows you to talk faster and makes everything sound better when put together.


Is "minimize" the word you are looking for?

  • That's what I'd use. As far as my browser window goes, if I hover over the "make window small" button, the word "minimize" actually pops up.
    – kitukwfyer
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 0:29
  • 7
    But minimize implies, minimizing to the task bar, at least from a UI perspective.
    – rest_day
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 1:08
  • 2
    -1, minimize is antonym to maximize; this is quite different to enlarge/shrink.
    – Unreason
    Commented Sep 12, 2011 at 10:17

There are several options:




Personally, I think "decrease" is the best.

  • I like "contract" in this context
    – redbmk
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 1:46

I would go with "increase or decrease the size of the window."


Okay, this might be a good option: "minify." According to Dictionary.com, it means "to minimize or lessen the size or importance of (something)." Sounds like a winner to me!

  • Like "minimize" (in another answer), I would think this means to make it as small as possible. But for this question, we may want it smaller, but not that small.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 15:28
  • @GEdgar They are not the same. "Minimize" is the exact antonym for "maximize", while "minify" is the exact antonym for "magnify".
    – Victor
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 6:44

The opposite is smallen – to make small-er.

  • Can you provide any more information to flesh out your answer? For example, what do dictionaries say? In your experience, do people use the word smallen?
    – aedia λ
    Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 16:52

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