\ ˈles How to pronounce less (audio) \

Definition of less

 (Entry 1 of 5)

comparative of little entry 1

1 : constituting a more limited number or amount less than three less than half done
2 : of lower rank, degree, or importance no less a person than the president himself
3a : of reduced size, extent, or degree
b : more limited in quantity in less time
no less
used to emphasize that something is regarded as impressive or surprising wants to be driven to the airport, in a limousine no less



Definition of less (Entry 2 of 5)

comparative of little entry 2

: to a lesser extent or degree
less and less
: to a progressively smaller size or extent
less than
: by no means : not at all less than honest in his replies


plural less

Definition of less (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : a smaller portion or quantity
2 : something of less importance

Definition of less (Entry 4 of 5)

: diminished by : minus

Definition of -less (Entry 5 of 5)

1 : destitute of : not having witless childless
2 : unable to be acted on or to act (in a specified way) dauntless fadeless

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Synonyms & Antonyms for less

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Less vs. Fewer: Usage Guide


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 in a Sentence

Adjective We need less talk and more work! She finished in less time than I did. Less detail is sometimes better than more detail. 8 times 2 is less than 6 times 3. We made it there in less than six hours. The whole procedure takes less than five minutes. The illness affects less than one percent of the population. Adverb This test seemed much less difficult than the last one. Which test is the less difficult of the two? Do you have another one that's less expensive? She visits much less often than she used to. They're focusing more on quality and less on quantity. Their band is less concerned with making music than with making money. Preposition We earned two hundred dollars, less travel expenses. Adjective suffix my first painless day since leaving the hospital
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective While unemployment benefits typically expire after six months or less, federal extensions enacted during the pandemic will allow some people to receive payments for about 18 months. Gwynn Guilford, WSJ, "U.S. Unemployment Claims Reach New Covid-19 Pandemic Low," 6 May 2021 Those making $50,000 or less took only about 20 percent. Howard Gleckman, Forbes, "Delaying Required IRA Distributions—Again— Would Largely Help Only The Wealthy," 5 May 2021 The permit can be used only for pipeline crossings that disturb a half-acre or less of steams or wetlands. Matthew Brown, Star Tribune, "Groups sue over US program allowing pipelines on wetlands," 4 May 2021 To address the city’s housing crisis, Mendenhall said the city’s Redevelopment Agency would have $10.4 million to preserve or build 350 affordable housing units, with at least 116 rented to those making 50% or less of the area’s median income. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Salt Lake City’s proposed budget includes support for policing, affordable housing and a new park. Here are the highlights.," 4 May 2021 In order to be considered, beer lovers should write a creative and original short answer essay of 50 words or less on the online application. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "Get Paid $20k to Become the First Ambassador to the 'Champagne of Beers Region' in Wisconsin," 3 May 2021 But consider that even before COVID, 29% of small businesses were unprofitable, and 47% had two weeks or less of cash, the JPMorgan Chase Institute found in a 2019 study. Elizabeth Macbride, Fortune, "Tech entrepreneurs grab the headlines, but COVID relief should target grass-roots small businesses," 2 May 2021 Pitchers Shelby Lowe, Maddie Penta and Lexie Handley worked together from the circle to hold the Volunteers to three runs or less per game. Giana Han, al, "Auburn softball winless against Tennessee in final home series," 2 May 2021 In Egypt, home to the Middle East’s largest Christian community, primarily of the Coptic denomination, churches were told to limit attendance to 25% or less. Associated Press Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Vaccinated faithful pack Jerusalem church for the ceremony of the Holy Fire," 1 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Sinopharm’s vaccine appears to be substantially less effective than the leading Western vaccines against Covid-19. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "WHO Endorses China’s Covid-19 Vaccine Sinopharm," 7 May 2021 But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. Washington Post, "Why the world’s most vaccinated country is seeing an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases," 6 May 2021 But vaccines appeared to be less effective against B.1.351, according to earlier studies. New York Times, "Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine," 5 May 2021 Variants of concern have threatened to make the antibody drugs less effective. Anna Kuchment, Dallas News, "Baylor to test new drug against coronavirus variants," 4 May 2021 Once the weed has gone to bud, herbicides are less effective. oregonlive, "Oregon gardening in May: It’s time to think about veggies, dahlias and more," 4 May 2021 The vaccine was less effective in producing a systemic antibody response, however. Cormac Sheridan, Scientific American, "COVID Innovations: Vaccines for Variants, Drone Deliveries, Print-Your-Own Shots, and More," 30 Apr. 2021 In Denmark, a mink outbreak led to more than 200 human cases, including 12 with a unique variant that Danish officials worried could make vaccines less effective. Detroit Free Press, "CDC: Michigan taxidermist may have caught COVID-19 from infected mink," 29 Apr. 2021 As pesticides become less effective against this dangerous pest, the state needs to find other ways to control them, Leal said. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, "The first genetically modified mosquitoes released in the U.S. to buzz in the Florida Keys," 29 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Jobless and benefit-less: What should COVID-19's economic victims do for health insurance? Shefali Luthra, Phil Galewitz And Rachel Bluth, USA TODAY, "'The pandemic is like a punch in the mouth': Medicaid faces new challenges amid US coronavirus outbreak," 3 Apr. 2020 Hassett warned that March job lesses could be among the worst on record. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Former White House economic adviser returns as economy tanks over coronavirus," 20 Mar. 2020 But that doesn't make the scar (and the fall that preceded it) any less of an emotional trauma. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Carrie Underwood Is Embracing Her Facial Scar With Rainbow Makeup and Glitter on Instagram," 8 Oct. 2018 The have-lesses would dig in and hope to sneak something on the break. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Mexico Stuns Germany in World Cup Opener," 17 June 2018 Sometimes burp-less is used as a marketing term for Asian varieties of cucumbers. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need To Know About Growing Crisp Cucumbers," 19 May 2017 Studying at home makes child care less of an obstacle and cuts out commuting time. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland.com, "Man found dead on East Side; plane slides off runway at Burke Lakefront: Overnight News Links," 4 Feb. 2018 The Giants were shut out for the first time 13 years at Arizona, pulse-less on offense. Peter King, SI.com, "Merry Christmas, NFC: The No. 1 Seed Eagles Suddenly Look Very Beatable," 26 Dec. 2017 Sleek and Brushed Back Another way to help to minimize the exposure of the scalp is to go part-less with a sleek, brushed back, wet look. Wendy Sy, Allure, "5 Hairstyles That Hide Dandruff Flakes," 24 Oct. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition Get ready for a lot less facial hair on your television. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "Duck Dynasty Is Leaving Television After 11 Seasons on the Air," 17 Nov. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'less.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of less


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1623, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for less

Adjective, Adverb, Noun, and Preposition

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

Adjective suffix

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

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Learn More about less

Time Traveler for less

Time Traveler

The first known use of less was before the 12th century

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Statistics for less

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Less.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/less. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for less



English Language Learners Definition of less

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: not so much : smaller in amount or number



English Language Learners Definition of less (Entry 2 of 4)

: not so much : to a smaller extent or degree

English Language Learners Definition of less (Entry 3 of 4)

: after taking away or subtracting (something)

English Language Learners Definition of -less (Entry 4 of 4)

: not having something specified : without something
: never doing or becoming something specified
: not able to be acted on in a specified way


\ ˈles How to pronounce less (audio) \

Kids Definition of less

 (Entry 1 of 5)

comparative of little

1 : being fewer Less than ten people showed up.
2 : not so much : a smaller amount of We need less talk and more action.



Kids Definition of less (Entry 2 of 5)

comparative of little

: not so much or so well This quiz is less difficult than the last.



Kids Definition of less (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : a smaller number or amount They made do with less.
2 : something that is not as important You're lucky. I've been grounded for less.

Kids Definition of less (Entry 4 of 5)

: minus entry 1 sense 1 Your cost is the regular price less a discount.
\ ləs \

Kids Definition of -less

1 : not having friendless
2 : not able to be acted on or to act in a specified way ceaseless

less, lesser

Medical Definition of less

comparative of little

More from Merriam-Webster on less

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for less

Nglish: Translation of less for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of less for Arabic Speakers

Comments on less

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