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adjective \ˈles\

Simple Definition of less

  • : not so much : smaller in amount or number

Full Definition of less

  1. comparative of 1little

  1. 1 :  constituting a more limited number or amount <less than three> <less than half done>

  2. 2 :  of lower rank, degree, or importance <no less a person than the president himself>

  3. 3 a :  of reduced size, extent, or degree b :  more limited in quantity <in less time>

no less
  1. —used to emphasize that something is regarded as impressive or surprising <wants to be driven to the airport, in a limousine no less>

Usage Discussion of less

The traditional view is that less applies to matters of degree, value, or amount and modifies collective nouns, mass nouns, or nouns denoting an abstract whole while fewer applies to matters of number and modifies plural nouns. Less has been used to modify plural nouns since the days of King Alfred and the usage, though roundly decried, appears to be increasing. Less is more likely than fewer to modify plural nouns when distances, sums of money, and a few fixed phrases are involved <less than 100 miles> <an investment of less than $2000> <in 25 words or less> and as likely as fewer to modify periods of time <in less (or fewer) than four hours>.

Examples of less

  1. We need less talk and more work!

  2. She finished in less time than I did.

  3. Less detail is sometimes better than more detail.

  4. 8 times 2 is less than 6 times 3.

  5. We made it there in less than six hours.

  6. The whole procedure takes less than five minutes.

  7. The illness affects less than one percent of the population.

Origin of less

Middle English, partly from Old English lǣs, adverb & noun; partly from lǣssa, adjective; akin to OldFrisian lēs less

First Known Use: before 12th century

Rhymes with less




Simple Definition of less

  • : not so much : to a smaller extent or degree

Full Definition of less

  1. comparative of 2little

  1. :  to a lesser extent or degree

less and less
  1. :  to a progressively smaller size or extent

less than
  1. :  by no means :  not at all <less than honest in his replies>

Examples of less

  1. This test seemed much less difficult than the last one.

  2. Which test is the less difficult of the two?

  3. Do you have another one that's less expensive?

  4. She visits much less often than she used to.

  5. They're focusing more on quality and less on quantity.

  6. Their band is less concerned with making music than with making money.

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of less

before 12th century




Definition of less

plural less

  1. 1 :  a smaller portion or quantity

  2. 2 :  something of less importance

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of less

before 12th century




Simple Definition of less

  • : after taking away or subtracting (something)

Full Definition of less

  1. :  diminished by :  minus

Examples of less

  1. We earned two hundred dollars, less travel expenses.

15th Century

First Known Use of less

15th century


adjective suffix

Simple Definition of -less

  • : not having something specified : without something

  • : never doing or becoming something specified

  • : not able to be acted on in a specified way

Full Definition of -less

  1. 1 :  destitute of :  not having <witless> <childless>

  2. 2 :  unable to be acted on or to act (in a specified way) <dauntless> <fadeless>

Examples of -less

  1. my first painless day since leaving the hospital

Origin of -less

Middle English -les, -lesse, from Old English -lēas, from lēas devoid, false; akin to Old High German lōs loose, Old English losian to get lost — more at lose

Medical Dictionary

less, lesser

Medical Definition of less

    comparative of little

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up less? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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