Run Small – Meaning & Example Sentences

In the English language, you’re bound to encounter expressions that are just a bit confusing. This might be the case with the phrase “run small”. What does it mean when something “runs small”? Does it have something to do with shoes? This article will answer all of these questions.

Run Small – Meaning

“Run small” is an expression used to talk about clothing brands. When a brand’s products “run small”, it means a very simple thing. On average they are smaller than similar brands of the same size. This is particularly true with shoes and shoe brands.

run small meaning

A size 7 shoe in one brand might be bigger than a size 7 shoe in another brand. In this situation, you say that the latter “runs small”.

The reason why the phrase is “run small” is simple. You can think of “run” as a synonym for “manufactured”. Therefore, you’re saying that the products are manufactured small.

Here’s an example to explain what we mean by “runs small”:

  • I’m here to exchange these shoes. They run small and I need to size up a better pair.

In this example, someone is turning in a pair of shoes that they bought. The reason is that they are too small for them, so they say that they run small.

Here’s a different example that will also teach you things:

In this case, someone is trying on a jacket. They’ve realized that this jacket, in spite of being the same “size”, is actually smaller than their other jacket. Therefore, it runs small.

Now consider the following example as well:

  • You’ve gotta be careful because their shirts run small. Get a bigger size.

In this case, someone is warning someone else to get a bigger size. This is because they’re buying clothing from a brand that runs small.

Run Small – Synonyms

“Runs small” is a phrase that helps you convey that a brand has smaller-than-average sizes. In fact, there are other phrases in English that can accomplish the same thing. Here are some synonym phrases for “run small”:

  • Manufactured small
  • They’re made to be smaller
  • Created small
  • Smaller in average

Phrases That Mean the Opposite of “Run Small”

“Run small” is used when a brand’s clothing is smaller than the average size. Naturally, there are going to be phrases that express the complete opposite of this. Here are some of these opposite phrases:

  • Run big

This phrase is used when a brand’s clothes are bigger than the average for other brands of that type.

  • Run large
  • Run huge

Incorrect Ways to Use “Run Small”

Because “run small” is a popular expression, some people completely misuse it. An incorrect way to use “run small” is to use it to talk about someone who is literally running. The phrase has nothing to do with running or jogging. Rather, “run” means “manufactured”.

Therefore “run small” is not a phrase that you should apply to people who run. You should instead only use it to talk about clothing brands that are smaller than others.

In What Situations Can You Use “Run Small”?

You can use “run small” when you notice size discrepancies between different clothing brands. It might happen that you try on a shoe. When you do this, the shoe might be smaller than an “equal-sized” shoe from another brand. In that situation, that shoe “runs small”.

Therefore, it’s a deeply applicable phrase that you can use in plenty of different situations. All of these situations might involve shoes, a jacket, a shirt, a sweater. Any piece of clothing can “run small”.